Students from the Water Quality class in the Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences Department brought a lesson about the aquatic food web on Oct. 8 to a fifth grade science class at Holt Middle School in Fayetteville. In top photo, students examine vials of lake water in a session taught by Collin Salazar. In bottom photo, Paige Boyle leads the fifth graders in a discussion of aquatic organisms.

Water Quality class students take knowledge to the middle schools

Oct. 9, 2013

Faculty and students in the Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences are seeking to bring expertise in aquatic studies to the public schools. During the week of Oct. 7, undergraduates led by Thad Scott, assistant professor of environmental water science, visited Holt and Owl Creek middle schools in Fayetteville to engage fifth grade science classes in the workings of the aquatic food web.

Scott has a proposal pending with the National Science Foundation to make such visits a regular part of his undergraduate Water Quality class. If approved, funding for the project would bring Scott and his students to the middle schools three times each semester.

The sessions at Holt and Owl Creek are a pilot module designed to provide teaching opportunities for the undergraduates. Each of Scott’s students who accompany him to the school works with a small group of fifth graders and shows them a vial of water fleas taken from a lake. They lead a discussion from a handbook about the relationship within the food chain of what typically would be found in a lake: channel catfish, smallmouth bass, threadfin shad, water fleas and algae.

The undergraduates are evaluated on their performance, effort and engagement. They also write a report about the experience.

“The program is also designed to increase the fifth graders’ knowledge of food webs and the interaction of organisms in the environment,” Scott said. “It will also demonstrate how organisms are dependent upon one another even though they may not interact directly.”

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