Area students get science field trips thanks to Alcoa grant funds

More than 500 students from Montague and Whitehall public schools will experience hands-on science field trips at Grand Valley’s Annis Water Resources Institute during 2012 and 2013, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation.

The grant will be used to support the trips on AWRI’s largest research vessel, the 65-foot W.G. Jackson, which will allow students to use the scientific expertise of the educators and crew along with the research tools aboard the boat to study sustainability and local water resources.

The experience on the vessel provides hands-on science and brings the excitement of scientific research alive for the students. The vessel has an onboard laboratory where students analyze water samples from various sites to learn about what factors contribute to water quality. Students will be introduced to the Great Lakes Literacy Principles, and positive actions they can take to be stewards of the environment.  

In some grade levels, students will also have a classroom experience in the Annis Educational Foundation Classroom at AWRI. Topics including lake stratification and sand research will be presented through in-class, hands-on activities. A pre- and post-test will measure the impact on student learning and attitudes about science careers. 

For more information on the Alcoa Foundation grant or AWRI’s education and outreach programs, contact Janet Vail, associate research scientist, at (616) 331-3148 or visit