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Scarsdale Scout Blazes a Trail for Science

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Scarsdale High School science teacher Richard Clark needed a nature trail with outdoor classrooms. SHS sophomore Connor Pascale needed an Eagle Scout project. So, when Clark read a newspaper article about a Boy Scout who had, some months earlier, plucked an elderly man from the waters off of Florida and was pursuing his Eagle ranking, the teacher made an inquiry.

Clark contacted Connor and asked him if he was interested in building a trail to be used in science instruction at the school. Four months later, the trail is done, winding through a wooded area near the soccer field and tennis courts behind the Girl Scout House.

"It took five or six weekends. I had my Boy Scout troop help me, and a couple of biology classes helped me,” Connor said. “I also had an arborist, Steve Skier, who works for SavATree. He saw me in the newspapers, and he's an Eagle Scout himself, so he got $315 cubic yards of wood chips to lay on the 600-foot trail, and he got me over a 100-year tree that they just happened to cut down, and I had my crews work on that."

Rounds were cut from the tree, he said, to make tabletops, tables and seats. The main idea of the project was for students to be outdoors instead of indoors. There are three classrooms along the trail and students will be able to do labs there.

Clark had plenty of praise for Connor. "It's amazing, what he did," Clark said. "How difficult it is to blaze a trail. He's the most humble, intellectual person, and very good at accomplishing anything he puts his mind to."

Clark said he got the idea after teaching a course for teachers in the Adirondacks run by Syracuse University. The idea was to take the concept and translate it into part of the curriculum at Scarsdale High

"Interpretive Walks is place-based. You bring the kids to it, and you don't have to take long field trips,” Clark said. And it isn't just for science students. Clark said art teachers have taken classes there to paint, and English teachers have taken classes there to inspire poetry. Even Edgemont teachers have brought classes to the trail.

The idea came from David Sobel of the University of New Hampshire according to Clark.

It included "using your town, your campus. You don't have to teach gloom and doom for the environment," Clark said. By teaching students about the environment in their own surroundings, "they understand what needs to be done. You don't have to tell them."

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