A Busy Start for the CWDD!

The VT EPSCoR Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD) is off to a busy start with the beginning of the new academic year and the new Basin Resilience to Extreme Events (BREE) research program. Led by new CWDD Coordinator, Mike Winslow, the CWDD Team hit the ground running! Visits included local Vermont elementary, middle, and high schools, a college, and a visit to partner Puerto Rico Universities to help cultivate new connections for undergraduate summer internship opportunities. Here are just a few highlights of their outreach efforts so far this year:

CWDD Visits Burlington High School

Students from Burlington High School received a visit from Vermont EPSCoR Senior Research Technician Janel Roberge on September 21, 2016. Ms. Roberge spoke with 15 students about macroinvertebrates, land use, and how those factors impact stream health.

This presentation served as an introduction to concepts and techniques that were then put to use in a field outing five days later at Potash Brook in South Burlington. In order to allow for a hands-on experience that would provide the most effective learning possible, the students also got to pick and sort macroinvertebrates from a stream sample. Then, they selected specific specimens to examine and identify under microscopes.

Burlington High School's Josepha Austin's class joined in on the macroinvertebrate sampling during our September 26th outreach trip with Hunt Middle School.

CWDD Members Introduce Hunt Middle School to Field Research

Approximately 250 students from Hunt Middle School in Burlington, Vermont were in attendance on September 16, 2016 as Vermont EPSCoR CWDD provided an introduction to macroinvertebrates and a preparatory outline of field activities the students would participate in over the next few weeks.

CWDD program members Livia Donicova, Declan McCabe, PhD, Janel Roberge, and Veronica Sosa-Gonzalez, PhD were on hand for the gathering. At the event, Dr. McCabe discussed stream health indicators and why having a healthy lake was important. He then outlined the protocol for bug sampling which was later put into action during field days scheduled for September 19th, 26th, and 30th.

Presentation given by Declan McCabe, PhD on stream health and bug sampling instructions to Hunt Middle Schoolers on September 16th

Hunt Middle School Students Explore Potash Brook

CWDD members Livia Donicova, Janel Roberge, Mike Winslow, Declan McCabe, PhD, and Veronica Sosa-Gonzalez led students from Hunt Middle School to Potash Brook in South Burlington to provide a chance for hands-on learning. All 250 students who were present during the introduction to field research on September 16th participated in three separate field days - September 19th, 26th, and 30th. These outings allowed students to gain applied experience on how to perform field research.

The students were split between two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Both sessions started with a Site Assessment, followed by a Water Quality Assessment of Potash Brook. Here, students took note of indicators such as canopy cover, landscape type and local land use. They learned why field scientists look at these indicators and what they mean for stream health. Student volunteers also measured stream pH, dissolved oxygen, and observed water and sediment samples. Finally, students put on waders and divided into groups to perform macroinvertebrate sampling. The students then picked, tallied, and used taxonomic keys and microscopes to identify their samples. A few of the macroinvertebrates were saved as a sample for the teacher.

Professor Declan McCabe talks about site assessments to Hunt Middle School students.

A student tallies the big sample her team collected.

Hunt Middle School students sample for macroinvertebrates.

Thumbs up during the field trip wrap-up.

Hunt Middle School students pick and identify macroinvertebrates.

CWDD members Janel Roberge and Livia Donicova talk to students on how to conduct habitat and stream assessments.

CWDD Coordinator Mike WInslow examines macroinvertebrates with Hunt Middle School students.

Hunt Middle School students gather around the tray of macroinvertebrates they just sampled from the stream.

Flynn Elementary School Learns About the Life of a Scientist

Members of Vermont EPSCoR CWDD spoke with three separate first grade classes at J.J. Flynn Elementary School in Burlington, Vermont. Sessions were held as part of teacher Courtney Asaro’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) curriculum on September 14, September 29, and October 7, 2016. CWDD members Livia Donicova, Janel Roberge, and Veronica Sosa-Gonzalez, PhD spoke about their jobs as scientists, their individual roles in the EPSCoR program, and gave the students a chance to use tools to make observations about bugs – like real scientist do!

During the event, students made observations about healthy and unhealthy water samples and discussed what that means for our health and the health of Lake Champlain. They then made observations about various macroinvertebrate samples using magnifying glasses. For many, this was the first time using a magnifying glass as well as looking closely at various bugs that live in streams. The session ended with students playing a game that described what scientists did at work – travel, work outside, build things – and related those tasks back to their own interests.

Similar events that allow young students to connect to science and technology occurred in the fall of 2015 and plan to occur in the future.

Saint Michael’s College Students Measure Stream Flow in Potash Brook

A group of 24 calculus students from Saint Michael’s College got a chance at some field study on September 15, 2016 when CWDD members Janel Roberge and Livia Donicova took them to Potash Brook in South Burlington, VT to measure stream flow.

The outing provided students from Professor Craig Jensen’s calculus class a chance to learn some of the scientific processes and procedures involved in stream flow measurement. This included terms like 'riffle' and 'reach' and the effect muddy-bottom versus rocky-bottom has on stream flow. Additional sessions were planned for September 22 and October 7, 2016 when CWDD Coordinator Mike Winslow and CWDD Outreach Professional Veronica Sosa-Gonzalez, PhD, would join the students.

Vermont EPSCoR has worked with Professor Jensen’s calculus classes in previous years, presenting similar field exercises. After this fall’s successful outing, there are plans to continue assisting Professor Jensen in teaching stream flow calculations.

SMC Professor Craig Jensen's calculus class measures stream flow in Potash Brook.

SMC Prof. Craig Jensen's calculus class goes to Potash Brook on September 22nd