On Tuesday, March 8, 2016, BFA-Fairfax Middle School 7th grade students took a close look at their campus landscape including the Mill Brook which happens to run right on the school grounds! Mr. Chris Palmer, a 7th and 8th grade science teacher, has incorporated Mill Brook in the science curriculum unit on water quality, blue-green algae blooms, and how these issues relate to the students. The study site, Mill Brook, flows directly into the Lamoille River which empties into Lake Champlain. Laura Yayac, Janel Roberge, and Lindsay Wieland from the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity at Saint Michael’s College (CWDD) visited the classroom and highlighted for the students, the connection between the health of their local stream and algal blooms that occur downstream.
Students were introduced to simple scientific research methods and discussed how their actions can help impact regional environmental issues. For example, at the stream, students divided into two groups to learn how researchers collect stream data and make observations. The students measured several parameters with pH probes, took temperature readings. Students also took grab samples from the stream to analyze in the lab. Lab tests included measures of phosphates, nitrates, chlorine, and dissolved oxygen - which are measures that enable scientists to understand the health of the stream and the watershed.
When asked about the value of this type of outreach event, Mr. Palmer answered, "My students getting experience doing research with real scientists outside the confines of my classroom laboratory – big time authenticity!"
For more information about how to arrange a visit to your middle school, please contact the CWDD at 654-3270 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.