article by Sam Wildlow  PIQUA — The Miami County Parks District visited fourth-grade students at Piqua Central Intermediate School on Wednesday and Thursday, teaching the students about weathering and prepping them for their participation in the Hug the Earth Festival later this spring.

The lessons from the parks district aligned with the school’s fourth grade science curriculum in regard to different types of weathering.

“Their focus is weathering, erosion, and deposition,” science teacher Nick Schemmel said.

The students will also get to go on a field trip with the parks district in April to the Charleston Falls Preserve in Tipp City, where they will see in person the different types of weathering that can take place in nature.

“They get to tie this into real-world experiences,” Schemmel said.

In the eight years that Schemmel has been at PCIS, the parks district has been participating with the students in the school’s curriculum to provide another way of learning about nature.

“This gives them more of a hands-on experience,” Schemmel said.

The parks district separated their lessons into different stations during their visit, and the students received bracelets from their stations to remind them about what they learned.

“They do station activities where they have to identify examples of weathering, erosion, and deposition into the landforms,” Intervention Specialist Betsy Jones said.

After teaching the students about weathering, the parks district also taught the students the songs that they will sing with the Banana Slug String Band at the Hug the Earth Festival in the spring at the Stillwater Reserve. The students were also able to paint the t-shirts that they will be wearing during the Hug the Earth Festival, which they painted with their previous lessons in mind.

“We go back to our classrooms and make weathering, erosion, and deposition t-shirts,” Jones said.

Steven Pope, a naturalist with the parks district, said the kids often still remember their lessons as well as their Banana Slug songs from the Hug the Earth Festival when they grow into teens and young adults. A number of those kids later become volunteers and guides with the parks district for Hug the Earth Festival.

“Coming out into nature makes kids healthier, happier, and smarter,” Pope said.