The first year of this project involved Southwood fourth-grade students and fourth- and fifth-grade Science Club students to be Citizen Scientists. We explored sections of the neighborhood tributaries of Buck Creek. This first year included teams collaborating on stream observations, a lesson on scientific sketching, question generating, water monitoring, and data collection related to our essential question, “How Healthy is our Creek?” It included students learning how to collect and record data from the creek behind the school (nitrates, phosphates, pH, macroinvertebrates, bacteria), researching what those tests tell us about the health of our water, and comparing information on the water collected behind the school to that collected at a local park (Creekside). Each group planned an investigation to answer their own team-generated question (all related to our essential question). Students then synthesized and shared information through a video and project board with each other, presented to the school family, and at the Groundswell Student Showcase.
Fostering Lifelong Stewardship:
I believe the more we encourage and include our students in authentic stewardship in their own communities, the better chance they have for understanding. The more they understand, the more apt they are to change behaviors to positively affect the community in which they live. A change of attitude often stirs action to change behaviors.