2017 | Richard Carstensen | 13 minutes

Remapping with Montessori

For a teacher at any of the downtown schools (Harborview, Montessori, JD High) with only an hour’s class period to get kids outside, Evergreen Cemetery has always been the obvious place. Not great for understory or wildlife—and a definite no-no for soil pits—but at least there’s trees to study, and lots of human history.

In 1989 and 1990, as I launched Discovery Southeast’s Nature Studies program in Harborview School, we made an ambitious series of forester-style ‘stem maps,’ 18x18m. The goal was to use mapping as Kathy Hocker uses field-drawing, as “the art of noticing,” of paying attention. Also to acquaint students and teachers with handy, real-world skills used by ecologists to study forests, and ultimately, forest succession. In class, we showed old aerials, to examine historical change.

In 2017, Montessori teacher Mary Jane Tenney organized her colleagues for a revisitation of this ~28-yr-old mapping project. In November, with about 70 students and a small battalion of volunteers and Discovery naturalists, we went back to see how things had changed.

Thanks to all who sheparded this 3-ring circus, and to Discovery board member Jamie Karnik for videography!

cemeterymapping from Discovery Southeast JuneauNature on Vimeo.