Potter's House Wonder Academy
This project was a continuing collaborative placed-based project with Plaster Creek Stewards of Calvin University/LGROW and the Department of Parks and Recreation for Wonder Academy students to study the health of Plaster Creek that flows by our school at Roosevelt Park neighborhood and to ponder on the implications of its health on the community. By pursuing the question “How can we improve the community connections to Plaster Creek?”, the students studied the social studies theme of community to get to know the neighborhood as a place (eg. walking audits). This involved learning about the assets and current situation of the Westside neighborhood, touching on topics of race/ethnicity and history. Students took a visual record of various locations with instant cameras as visual data; using the pictures, the students also composed narratives using their skills of reflection. Simultaneously, the students took the lens of physical science to implement skills in water chemistry using provided H2OQ kits from LGROW, weekly at Roosevelt Park and a couple opportunities at other locations upstream (Shadyside Park) and downstream (Plaster Creek meeting Grand River). The students compiled the data meaningfully, ultimately to produce a health analysis report that culminated in a showcase to report to school and community stakeholders using a slideshow they created in teams. In addition to this showcase, students also wrote narratives that went along with a picture they took and these were presented at West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology as part of an exhibit of community members. As a second cycle of this project, the student’s data were added to an electronic data repository for reference in future projects; they also contribute to the online data H2OQ map. They will also be analyzing and evaluating the proposed solutions and park redesigns from the previous class as references to improve on and suggest more informed solutions of their own for the issues that they find.
Fostering Lifelong Stewardship:
Nurturing a sense of love and care for place and awareness of human impact as well as duty towards stewardship efforts is one of the main drives for this project. We hope that through the project, students not only become more informed members of the watershed who see the connection between water, people, and the land, but also become more inclined to be more concerned of current state and practices around water and to seek active ways to participate in stewardship. We hope that students also recognize the importance of data in our stewardship efforts and how even as young 6/7th graders, they can have a role in caring for Plaster Creek.
Plaster Creek Stewards, Grand Rapids Department of Parks and Recreation, Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds
Eunsub Cho 6th & 7th Grade, Science; Kathy DeJong, 6th & 7th Grade, Language Arts & Social Studies
The Wege Foundation