Expedition urges kids to learn about sea, science

May 24, 2017

Expedition urges kids to learn about sea, science

A group of 28 fifth- and sixth-graders from Mount Erie Elementary School, plus a few of their teachers, took their classroom to the water last week as part of a Salish Sea Expedition.

The young scientists were out on the water to study something of their own choosing. After a couple days in the classroom with the staff from the expedition group, the kids decided to study the relationship between copper in the water and the plankton living there.

Their hypothesis? More copper would mean fewer plankton.

For the most part, they were right, Kelly Greenwood, a program director with Salish Sea Expeditions said.

“We learned all living things need copper,” fifth-grader Faye Lopez said. “But they can’t have too much.”

The team spent two nights out completing its study.

One night, a group of kids slept on the boat and the other camped out on shore. The next night, they switched.

Fifth-grader Emma Thompson said she liked sleeping on the boat best.

“It was really relaxing,” she said.

Sixth-grade teacher Nate Rozema said the kids did a great job adjusting, even though they spent most of one day in the rain.

As the expedition continued, he saw the students taking more control and doing things on their own. They needed a lot of guidance at first but slipped into leadership roles easily when the time came.

Faye said the independence on the ship was one of her favorite parts.

The scientists were assigned different roles on board. Some were part of a documentary team and interviewed the other students to compile some reactions to the trip and to the science experiment.

The skills learned on the expedition can easily translate back to the classroom, Rozema said. The hands-on experience helps the students learn more about how the science process works. They also learned about teamwork.

Salish Sea Expeditions has two crews that trade off and is out almost every day with one group or another, Greenwood said. Most student expeditions involve sixth to eighth grades, but there are some high school groups and recently, a group from college.

Most are from around the region, but a group from Alaska recently came and completed an experiment comparing the food web of the Salish Sea to that in Alaska.

The goal is to help youths find a deeper interest in what’s going on in the water.

“We want to connect kids to the environment around them,” Greenwood said.

Alzola, Briana. “Expedition urges kids to learn about sea, science,” GoAnacortes.com, May, 24, 2017. http://www.goanacortes.com/arts_and_community/article_987f74a4-4000-11e7-830e-6326944cc450.html

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