Friday, May 18, 2018

Jordan-Small Middle School students apply knowledge from water project in creative ways by Lorraine Glowczak

Ryanne Greene and Macie Ennis explain the water cycle
Sixth-grade students from Jordan-Small Middle School released hundreds of baby brook trout in the Presumpscot River on Tuesday, May 8 as part of a collaborative, educational effort with the Portland Water District’s TroutKids Program. On the day of release, the students performed water quality tests, macroinvertebrate sampling and conducted shoreline assessments to ensure the new habitat was healthy for the trout. The purpose of the project was to help the students gain insight into local water issues; take a role in its future protection and to apply the information in creative and fun ways.

The TroutKids project began in early January when the students received the fish eggs, raising them until their release last week. Their projects entailed scientific evaluation and record keeping and making sure the water in the fish tank remained at a certain Ph level, in order for the fish to grow in a healthy environment., the students studied the trout life cycle, the water cycle, the watershed and other related environmental topics; such as storm water runoff as well as the importance of composting and recycling. They also learned the history of water filtration and wells that dates back as early as 500 BC.

Of the many things the students learned, the most reiterated topic was the importance of keeping our waters clean, fresh and pollutant free. Not wasting water was also a noted topic, realizing that there is not an endless supply. “Some people in other countries, such as some countries in Africa, have to walk thousands of miles to get water,” stated students Ryanne Greene and Macie Ennis, whose project included artwork of the water cycle.

Artwork was one form students chose to share what they learned during the project. Others applied and presented their new-found knowledge with PowerPoint presentations, slide shows with music, books, games and other “call to action” strategies. The students will present their projects in a school-wide event to share what they learned with the other grade levels.

The Splish Splash game
Students Marlie Ennis and Elizabeth Gurney created the game, “Splish Splash”, to teach the correct call of actions one needs to take for the future of healthy water. In order to advance on the game board, the player has to answer the problem correctly. The questions have multiple choice answers. Responding to the questions correctly will allow the participant to move on to the next space and win $50. An incorrect answer could land you in jail.

Maya VanHise, Bailey Butts and Stella Feenstra wrote a children’s book. The story is about a student who goes on a field trip but does not dispose his trash properly, leaving the garbage behind to soil the water. There are a few individuals who come along to help pick up the trash left behind by the story’s main character. Together, they start a Save the Water Club. “These ‘helpers’ are actual representations of the Jordan-Small teachers,” explained VanHise, Butts and Feenstra. “And the purpose of the story is to teach younger students ways not to pollute the environment. The story explains how one person can make a difference.” Austin created call to action signs to be placed on all the trash cans in the Jordan-Small Middle and Raymond Elementary schools. On the sign, it reads “Is this trash or compost?”  The purpose of the sign is to encourage individuals to dispose of trash properly and recycle when appropriate. Austin is in the process of delivering her signs to the teachers, but her project will not end there. “After a couple of weeks, I will go around to interview the teachers to see if my sign actually made a difference,” Austin stated.

The science teachers Jack Fitch, Adina Bassler and Lynne Estey (who is also the coordinating teacher with the Portland Water District) spoke about their endless amazement at the talent, creativity andpassion for learning their students encompassed and applied to this water project.

“I have learned not to set boundaries with what students can learn and how they apply what they have learned,” stated Estey; “Because they have always exceeded my expectations.”

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