Roughly 200 elementary schoolchildren skipped school Monday for water bugs, soils, plants and wildlife in Logan Canyon.

But not to worry - it wasn't a mass strike: The fourth-graders from Heritage, Lincoln and North Park elementary schools were on a field trip with the USU College of Natural Resources to study science firsthand.

USU Water Quality Extension began its two-weeks-long journey of hands-on learning about the environment with fourth-graders from around Cache Valley, a method that was proved effective after knowledge assessments last year.

"Fourth grade is when they start learning about Utah. This is a good introduction to the Utah environment," said Tiffany Kinder, a Utah State University graduate student who supervised the project.

In the next two weeks, almost every fourth-grader in Cache and Logan school districts will get to venture to the field with USU instructors to learn more about the Cache Valley environment.

Eventually, about 1,300 elementary schoolchildren will have the chance to learn about their surroundings.

Kinder, who has been involved with this initiative for the last three years, surveyed the previous participants of the camp and found the children learned a "significant amount and were able to retain that knowledge" eight months after the event.

Carrie Briehn, a fourth-grade teacher at North Park, said the experience allowed her students to remember certain concepts - particularly in studying the different layers of soil.

"It's always better than me standing there, just talking," Briehn said.

And while children were learning, they perceived the activity as more play than work.

"It's more fun here than in the school because you have to learn at school, but this is fun," said Carson Allen from Lincoln after describing what he had learned about water bugs.

Gavyn Leishman, a Heritage student, was excited to become more camp-savvy after learning about wildlife.

Gavyn's classmate, Max Lawes, preferred matching names with the right object and putting different layers of soil in a tube.

Regardless of their favorite activity, the schoolchildren will retain this hands-on knowledge for awhile, Kinder's research shows.

The learning camps will continue for the rest of this week and most of next week.

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ssargsyan@hjnews.com

Twitter: sateniksargsyan

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