Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Rhode Island

Third Grade Climate Scientists

Third Grade Climate Scientists

by Gretchen Proulx

This past fall, third grade students in Gretchen Proulx’s class at Mary Fogarty Elementary School, in Providence, were immersed in environmental studies. From working in the school garden and around school grounds to a Save the Bay site visit, the students developed a deeper understanding of weather and climate and how it effects our local environment. 

The school garden provided many fall delights including seed collection, mint harvesting and science lessons on leaf classification. Working in partnership with Providence Neighborhood Planting Program and the Providence city forester, the students participated in a neighborhood tree planting designed to reduce the local summer heat index. Seventeen trees were planted directly on Mary Fogarty grounds including native tulip trees, choke cherry trees and pin oaks all chosen to provide habitats for animal and bird populations. 

During a site visit to Save the Bay in October, the students collected data on the benthic (bottom) and planktonic (upper) zones of Narragansett Bay while out on the ship Allana Morris. They measured and compared data points regarding temperature, salinity and biodiversity found in the different zones during the fall season. Later, they walked the rocky shore identifying both native and invasive species. Finally, they viewed and categorized plankton in water they collected from the bay. 

To culminate studies of weather and climate, the students have written informational text on a weather phenomenon and pondered their own ability to help alleviate climate change. Upcoming studies will consider life cycles and habitats with an emphasis on local environments. 

Save the Bay is now celebrating 50 years of protecting and improving Narragansett Bay. To learn about bringing Save the Bay’s environmental education programs into your schools, call 401 272-3540 X133 or visit

Gretchen Proulx teaches third grade at Mary Fogarty Elementary School, in Providence.