Groundswell's annual showcase shines spotlight on student scientists
After a school year spent on their various science projects, students from 25 area elementary, middle and high schools had their opportunity to present and discuss their findings during the Groundswell Student Project Showcase on May 25.
“It is so exciting to see the way the projects have come together, and the excitement the students have for everything they have accomplished over the year,” said Jessica Vander Ark, Groundswell manager. “I love seeing all the energy and creativity of the projects.”
In all, students from 32 schools conducted research in environmental studies, looking at issues related to biodiversity, sustainability, flora and fauna or aquatic.
“Teachers are really excited to be back doing this, and it shows in their students,” said Vander Ark. “It’s very exciting to see the showcase be back in full force with a full year of school so the students could really invest in their project all year long, the way it is intended.”
The showcase combined the elements of a science fair and film festival. In an upper room at Celebration Cinema North in Grand Rapids, students assembled their projects at designated stations.
As part of the showcase, students are also required to make a 1-minute film that addresses their findings. About 75 minutes into the expo, teachers and family members joined the young scientists in one of the theaters to watch their short films.
“We get some really fun videos to watch and some really sweet ones,” said Vander Ark.
Keith Piccard’s sixth-grade students at Allendale Middle School studied aquatic macroinvertebrates in the Sevey Drain channel, which flows near the school’s property. Piccard said by studying and collecting data on the tiny creatures, students can assess the health of the mini-ecosystem near their school.
“It’s about getting students actively engaged in the field of science,” said Piccard. “The textbook is nice, but let’s get them engaged hands-on where they are actually contributing to the body of knowledge of science. That’s what I love about this.”