Fungi in the Classroom

On Friday, I met with Miss Mac’s 11th Grade AP Environmental Science Class at the location of our soon-to-be mushroom garden.  I was very impressed with the kids’ enthusiasm and knowledge about fungi.  Long-time teacher Paul gave me the history of the spot.  It turns out this place was known for it’s natural springs and until the 1950’s people would come with jugs to fill up.  Paul constructed a dam decades ago to establish a wetland there which sports a stand of young bald cypresses.  A couple people, including one student, have spotted a pair of coyotes with a den along the opposite hill.  Hopefully they’ll scare off any deer trying to chomp at our delectables (chicken mushrooms are a favorite amongst woodland creatures).

I also met with Ed Stainton, former president of Friends of Wissahickon, the organization responsible, for one, for maintaining over 50 miles of trails in the park (  Ed has a means of obtaining additional logs for our garden.

We spent the remaining hour of class discussing fungus and inspecting a last-years reishi found on the way back.  The classroom was impressive.  Each student had a computer and could therefore fact-check me in real time.  “Gilled mushrooms are agaricales, Mr. Tyler.”  Point taken!  Miss Mac and I are in the process of developing a curriculum on fungi for the students to begin after they return from Spring Break.  I promise it will be fun.


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