Michelle Nichols, Grant Coordinator
The fifth-grade students at Natalie Kreeger Elementary School in Fowlerville were the recipients of a special collaborative project with Metroparks Interpretive Services over this past school year. This program called Inspiring STEM Success, was funded with a $5,000 grant to the Metroparks Foundation from the Hanover Insurance Group with the goal of helping the students increase their science proficiency. The entire fifth grade class of over 200 students participated in the project.
Inspiring STEM Success, where STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and math, was developed by the Metroparks Interpretive staff to get students interested and excited about science. It combined classroom demonstrations with hands-on, outdoor, investigations into water quality from an ecosystem perspective.
Last fall and again this past spring, students donned hip-boots to wade into the Huron River and vernal ponds at Hudson Mills Metropark where they collected water samples and macroinvertebrates—a water quality indicator species. They measured and recorded water temperature, air temperature, and water turbidity. They tested the water for dissolved oxygen, pH levels, and nutrient load. Prior to each session at the park, Interpreters spent time at the school to teach students about the riverine and vernal pond ecosystems and their relationship to the larger watershed. They discussed water quality parameters and the equipment needed to prepare them for the investigation.
In the process of these outdoor investigations, students learned about ecosystems, watersheds, scientific method, analytical thinking, and communicating results. They also learned to enjoy time outdoors and an appreciation for the environment. The Inspiring STEM Success program also opened the eyes of these fifth-grade students to career possibilities. The students were excited to learn that real scientists conducted field investigations similar to what they were doing.
“There are so many things to learn about!” remarked one student on his program evaluation form.
Thank you, Hanover Insurance Group, for supporting Metropark initiatives that enhance science education for local schools.