Project Description: The driving question for this project was, “How does human
activity impact water sustainability?” Students in an English Language
Arts class generated their own questions from this driving question
and then completed a research paper. Students in Science studied the
water cycle and the Kentwood Water Quality report, and then
field-tested water quality in school, at home, and from the creek
outside. In math, students graphed their findings. Social Studies
teachers built knowledge of water sustainability through a reading of
A Long Walk to Water. Finally, groups worked together to create two
deliverables: a tri-fold board displaying their research question and
findings as well as a Public Service Announcement. This announcement
was shared with the student body during morning “Channel One” time.
The project culminated the project with a fieldtrip to the Grand
Rapids Museum, where students interacted with an exhibit that follows
the path of a water droplet.
Fostering Lifelong Stewardship: Students now see how the interconnectedness of water and human systems.
Partners: City of Kentwood, City of Wyoming
Funder: GVSU College of Education
Project Description: We expanded the social justice and environmental sustainability
focus of the Groundswell Light project, “Water Is Life”, we completed
in 2017-2018. We have a long-range, 5-year plan for a project-based
learning experience for our 185 students in which they will design and
build an Outdoor Learning Lab (outdoor classroom). The project will
draw on skills learned in ELA, Science, Social Studies, Math, EL
(English Learning), and Technology.
This year we began by creating winter-sown greenhouses for native
seeds we harvested. We will track the cold-germination in soil from
our property near Buck Creek, potting soil, and sand. We will track
the data of both native and purchased seeds. Students planted seeds
that survived in a native pollinator garden on a plot.
Next, we had students build a water robot. We took students to
Buck Creek to test the water in the creek near the school. Students
tracked the data from the robot’s water samples. Data will be used to
determine which native plants to place next year.
Fostering Lifelong Stewardship: Students studied the local watershed around Buck Creek which runs
through Valleywood’s school property. Through cultivation and planting
of native pollinators, students learned about the importance of native
species in preserving and protecting local water sources. We hope to
expand this study to include a field trip to the Grand River and Lake
Michigan in years to come.
Partners: Friends of Buck Creek, City of Kentwood, St. Mary Magdalen
This year, Valleywood Middle saw two projects collaborate on campus.
Zoerhof's students planted native restoration plants on the banks of
Buck Creek in an effort to slow the sentimental process down to
decrease sediment in Buck Creek. [They planted] multiple native plants
with a native plant consultant.
Van Hof's students raised salmon from orange/black eyed eggs to
fingerlings that were released in the Grand River in April. Eggs were
received through Wolf Lake Fishery. Students created graphs and kept
track of water quality of the fish tank to keep as many fish alive and
well throughout the 8 month raising process.
Fostering Lifelong Stewardship:
Zorhof observed that students were very engaged about taking action
in their school yard. They were able to create maps of the creek with
the plants they planted with enthusiasm. Students were able to inform
other students about the new plants in their school yard.
Van Hof observed that the best part of the students’ day [was] going
to the fish tank and monitoring the fish and completing their research
findings in the salmon books. They were very excited to see the growth
difference in the fish and beyond excited to release them in the river.
Revery LLC, Trout Unlimited
Bobbijo Zorhof, 7th Grade, Social Studies; Jane Van Hof, 7th Grade,
English Language Arts