The 7th grade class from Hope Elementary School (HES) is undertaking a project funded by the Natural Resources Council of Maine to investigate invasive aquatic plant species. With their teacher, Mr. Amundsen, they have proposed to survey and detect the presence of invasive aquatic plant species from a local lake in Hope.
Invasive aquatic species are a problem for the ecology and wildlife of Maine. This problem not only impacts the environment, but destabilizes Maine’s local rural economies and the overall wellbeing of Mainers who recreate in these threatened waterways. Knowing the multifaceted factors that endanger Maine’s waters, the HES students believe that this threat is an essential issue to Maine and all Mainers.
Many of the 7th grade students at HES, as with most Mainers, are incredibly active in the outdoors and are fascinated with the natural sciences. This project combines their love for the outdoors and their interest in science with the opportunity to do scientific research and “get their hands dirty” by doing fieldwork.
The goal of this project is to introduce HES students to scientific research through the unique experience of conducting a biological survey in their local area. The students will learn from experts who have the knowledge, experience, and practical advice in doing and following through a biological survey.
There are two objectives to the project:
- To teach students how to identify invasive species, how to conduct a field survey, and how to record and document their findings. The project will bring in Maine biologists and local volunteers to instruct students about plant identification and how to do a biological survey.
- To have students spend several sessions in the research area to survey, record, and document any presence of invasive aquatic species.
Although this is a small project, its potential impact to bring awareness about the importance to preserve and protect Maine’s waterways could be significant. All Mainers want the clean and healthy waters that are integral our identity as Mainers.
At the end of their research project, the HES students will give a presentation to the entire school as well as the community. These presentations will introduce the students to the vital role that scientists find themselves in, as a public figure, educator, and a conduit between the science and the public. Outside of the rigors of doing scientific research, public outreach is one of the most critical roles a scientist often must do.
As their teacher, I hope the students learn from this experience that science is more than just doing research; it often involves the solid relationships that are formed when doing fieldwork with their colleagues. Many consider fieldwork to be the fun part of doing science, and I wish for the students to complete this project with the mindset that science is an exciting endeavor full of adventure.
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