For New Albany Middle School science teacher Sandy Reed, nature, particularly Rose Run Creek, is the best classroom for her students.

Reed, who has been teaching for 32 years in the Columbus area, uses the creek, wetlands and wooded areas set aside by the city to allow them to learn about the nature surrounding them. She routinely brings her students to the creek to study the aquatic creatures that live there. Her students don wading boots and use nets to take a closer look at Rose Run Creek’s wildlife – which includes macroinvertebrates, small fish, amphibians, crustaceans and mammals. Schools in the New Albany-Plain Local School District use the stream for learning year round, collecting fresh water samples to check on oxygen levels and species diversity.

Such hands on learning is incredibly effective, Reed said.

“Students learn best through experience,” she told the Columbus Jewish News. “Chances are if you study something out of a book, you will forget it. If you experience it, you will know it and that will be a part of you. That learning will be permanent.”

While this program has been around since Reed began teaching in New Albany in 2002, she said the city recently took steps to create a healthier environment at Rose Run Creek. For instance, New Albany created an access point right into the river stream. The city also took out and cleaned the dam, and created ripple areas, or rocky areas, allowing water to flow down and over the rocks. This, Reed said, puts oxygen back into the water allowing cleaner and healthier water for aquatic species. The city also removed invasive species from the creek.

“This is a great example of how the school and city are great at working together,” Reed said, adding that New Albany “sets aside resources by planning so that it will benefit everyone in the community.”

Looking ahead, Reed said the city just purchased new park land where she wants to develop a science program.

Jamie Insul is the Violet Spevack Editorial Intern.