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A Walk On the Wild Side | Ohio Sea Grant

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A Walk On the Wild Side

3:37 pm, Thu March 23, 2017 – Stone Lab Teacher Alumni Profile

Using the Hydrolab sonde

Thanks to a technology loan program from the U.S. EPA and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, students in Shari Insley’s math class got hands-on experience with water quality sampling and monitoring on three field trips to Rocky River Reservation in Cleveland. Photo: Shari Insley

Stone Lab and science – the two go hand-in-hand.

Anyone who has visited Stone Lab knows about its connection to scientific education and discovery. The 25-plus college-credit courses and workshops hosted there each summer focus on biological and environmental sciences of all stripes.

But the lessons taught at Stone Lab extend beyond that singular discipline, and eighth grade math teacher Shari Insley is proving it. Insley, a teacher at North Olmsted Middle School in North Olmsted, Ohio, is putting what she learned during the Stone Lab course Water & Wildlife Training for Educators to use in her math classes. Insley’s math students are monitoring water quality in the Rocky River through a partnership with Cleveland Metroparks this year.

Insley was introduced to Stone Lab through a workshop on solar technology education held there in June 2016, where Stone Lab Education and Outreach Assistant Angela Greene, one of the workshop facilitators, told attendees about the water and wildlife class she would be co-teaching the next month.

“It was just an amazing week with amazing (teachers),” Insley said of the week-long Water & Wildlife class. “As soon as I got home, I thought, ‘How can I use this in the classroom to make the students’ education more meaningful and more real?’”

She used connections made at the lab, contacting her water and wildlife training classmate Mark Warman, then a naturalist at Cleveland Metroparks. Through the Limno Loan program, a partnership between the U.S. EPA and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Insley was able to borrow a Hydrolab, a water quality data sonde, and Warman helped arrange a set of three field trips to Rocky River Reservation for the students to use the sonde and track water quality over the course of the school year.

But even before they could take their first trip, there was science – and math – to be done. She led the students in the Ohio Sea Grant activity How Well Do You Know the Great Lakes? The students used string to depict the shoreline length of each Great Lake and used their knowledge to predict how the total water volume, human population of the watershed and annual commercial fishing harvest of the Great Lakes were distributed. In another activity, the students practiced using Secchi disks to measure water turbidity.

Insley and Warman, who had been lab partners during Water & Wildlife Training, worked together to develop four activities for the approximately 90 students that attended the field trip: collecting macroinvertebrates, using Secchi disks to measure turbidity, conducting sensory observation (estimating cloud cover and weather conditions and the geology of the area), and using the Hydrolab sonde. Warman led the students in collecting macroinvertebrates and said he was impressed with their enthusiasm.

“They couldn’t wait to get the nets in their hands and walk into the stream,” Warman said. “I know they were surprised to find a wide variety. They were curious and they were very engaged, even if they were just waiting on the shore for their turn.”

Using the Hydrolab, the students were able to measure dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH, chlorophyll a, and temperature.

Insley, too, said the students were excited by the lessons. “They thought it was the best experience they’ve had in their eight or nine years of education. They felt like real scientists, getting to use scientific equipment and apply what we’d been learning.”

“I am hoping that they can see the realworld application for math in different professions and that you need math to understand science,” she said. “I’m hoping they are exposed to a variety of jobs that they never thought they could do.”
Shari Insley

The students will return to that same area of the river twice more – in March and May – to take additional measurements and then will calculate the differences and correlations and what that data might mean.

“I am hoping that they can see the realworld application for math in different professions and that you need math to understand science,” she said. “I’m hoping they are exposed to a variety of jobs that they never thought they could do.”

Insley said science teachers at North Olmstead are intrigued by the cross-curricular education approach she is modeling with this project and hope to incorporate similar programming in years to come.

The class Insley and Warman took, Water & Wildlife Training for Educators, is being offered again this July and is one of four courses and workshops offered at Stone Lab this year specifically designed for educators. Participants in Water & Wildlife Training for Educators leave the course with the certifications and materials necessary to implement activities from five national curricula: Project Wild; Project Wild Aquatic; Science & Civics; Project Wet; and Healthy Water, Healthy People.

ARTICLE TITLE: A Walk On the Wild Side PUBLISHED: 3:37 pm, Thu March 23, 2017
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Lisa Aurand Rice
Communication and Marketing Specialist, Ohio Sea Grant College Program

Communications and Marketing Specialist Lisa Rice promotes Stone Lab’s summer courses and is the face behind the Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab social media accounts.

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