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A brief history of the natural world [photo gallery]

Environmental Fair at Five Rivers explores the present and past

Children play a game while learning about the emerald ash borer on Thursday, May 16, during the Environmental Fair at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center.

Children play a game while learning about the emerald ash borer on Thursday, May 16, during the Environmental Fair at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center. Photo by John Purcell.

— Today’s students sometimes have to cover a lot of ground in a single day.

That was evident at the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center’s recent Environment Fair, at which kids learned about environmental topics as diverse as prehistoric sea creatures, dinosaurs and modern-day composting methods.

The Delmar preserve hosted more than 600 students from around 10 Capital District elementary schools during the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s three-day Environmental Fair, which began Tuesday, May 14. During the event, students were taught through presentations given by DEC employees on a range of environmental topics. Presenters often used games to help connect children to what they were learning and keep them engaged.

Harold Evans, assistant director of DEC Public Affairs and Education, said the event brings children into nature and teaches them about what the department does every day.

“Our main focus here is to introduce children to the concepts of environmental education,” Evans said. “This is really kind of an opportunity to work with young people and people in the community … and teach them about a variety of environmental concepts — nature, ecology and biology.”

Evans said the DEC offers teachers education material through another program to introduce students to environmental concepts in the classroom.

“This is sort of a hands-on opportunity to reinforce the things that are learned in the classroom,” he said. “You can learn only so much from a book and getting them out in the actual environment and seeing some of the concepts they are taught in class sort of reinforces that.”

There were 14 different presentations being given on Tuesday, focusing on air, water, forests, wildlife, preventing pollution, composting, recycling, geology and minerals along with other topics.

One presentation focused on the DEC’s spills response team, showing a hazmat suit and other tools used. After learning about the gear and precautions used, students played a couple games that simulated a surface and water spill. One involved a kiddie pool filled natural substance. The other game simulated a roadway cleanup after a traffic accident.

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