- Sponsorship -

Students Study Whether City’s Rapids Should Return

Despite her numb fingers on the 28-degree day, CA Frost Environmental Science Academy sixth-grader Lux Howell shook a vial filled with river water for several minutes to measure the amount of oxygen in it, part of a process to determine water quality.

While Lux worked with her team on their portion of the testing, her classmates collected data on phosphate and nitrate levels in Grand River water collected in downtown Grand Rapids. They wrote down observations for a student research project underway on the health of the river and whether rapids should be restored by removing five dams.

“I like learning about nature and how it works,” said Lux. “I don’t think the dams should be removed because all the life that has adapted here without the rapids would have to re-adapt.”Student Pippa Gibson tests water

Hands-on Science

These young stewards of the Great Lakes watershed are enrolled at the Grand Rapids Public Schools’ specialty school because of their interest in science and the outdoors. The data collected on the trip along the riverbanks will be used for a project involving sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders made possible through a local coalition called Groundswell. Their research will look at the history of the river and future possibilities for it.

The classes are seeking answers to the whether the dams should be removed and if the banks should be restored to their natural condition,said Mary Lewandoski, a middle school science teacher who partners with Groundswell.

Dam removal and rapid restoration is a hot topic in Grand Rapids, where the nonprofit Grand Rapids Whitewater, dedicated to putting rapids back into the river, is working with city leaders on a plan. Students are divided over the idea.

“I think the dams should be removed so the rapids can be grand again,” said student Noah.

“I wouldn’t like them to take out the dams,” said student Edwin Lopez. “It might flood the whole city when it rains a lot again.”

Creating Stewards of the Environment

The field trip was funded by a grant made possible through Groundswell, which promotes environmental learning. Getting outside to learn and encourage students to become environmental experts is the goal of Groundswell, and ties in with CA Frost’s curriculum, said Lewandoski, a lead teacher for the four-year old coalition of community partners.

Groundswell focuses on creating opportunities for hands-on environmental learning for Kent County students. It’s funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the Wege Foundation, the Frey Foundation, and the Baldwin Foundation, and partners with 15 schools. Grand Valley State University’s College of Education is the fiscal agent for the grant-funded program.

CA Frost students also spent the snowy November day measuring the width of the river along Grand Rapids’ Blue Bridge and dropping a “Poohstick,” which is named after a game played in a Winnie-the-Pooh book, into the water to measure the flow rate.

Other districts involved in Groundswell projects include Rockford, Kentwood, Sparta and Forest Hills schools. Other projects have focused on erosion prevention, gardening, recycling and creating a rain garden.

CONNECT

Groundswell

Great Lakes Fishery Trust

Grand Rapids Whitewater

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

LATEST ARTICLES

The changing of guard – as long-time educator and AD welcomes a new one

Godwin Heights Football Coach Brandon Kimble will take over as the district’s athletic director when Robert Hisey, dean of students and athletic director, officially retires Nov. 2...

Whole-child advocates ready to lead, collaborate

SNN gets to know these new elementary principals in this edition of Meet the Principal...

Amid uncertainty, new protocols, there’s laughter, new connections

Junior Olivia Austin reflects on the first day of a very unique school year...

District welcomes new administrators, ready to ‘lead through uncharted waters’

New administrators share their thoughts on starting their posts during a pandemic...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Two high schools, newly renovated, await return of students

Two major renovation projects at Ottawa Hills and Union high schools are part of a 30-year, $175 million school improvement bond approved November 2015 with the majority, $155 million, earmarked for construction...

City, schools come together to create green schoolyards for students

A new green schoolyard for Burton Elementary/Middle is one of four such projects the City and Grand Rapids Public Schools will complete in the next 12-18 months...

In class, online, both? Parents, students wrestle with choices

Students, parents, teachers and others share their feelings about the start of this school year...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS