Oscoda Middle School students are taking action by getting involved in their local watershed through the NOAA B-Wet grant for watershed education. Throughout the school year, students participate in various watershed-related projects and activities including: water sampling on Van Etten Lake and the Pine River; conducting water quality evaluation at sampling sites; completing a NOAA glass bottom boat tour; coordinating school grounds clean-ups; conducting an Adopt-a-Beach Cleanup, and more.
Students conducted their first Adopt-a-Beach clean-up in the Fall of September 2013 at AuSable Shoreline Park, located just south of downtown Oscoda. Today, students are still conducting the Adopt-a-Beach at Shoreline Park which allows them to compare data collected from prior years clean-ups. For the Adopt-a-Beach clean-up, students divided into different focus groups. A majority of students worked to pick up and record each piece of trash collected from the beach. Students use this data to determine which pieces of trash are most common and to educate the public on where their litter ends up – Lake Huron. Another group’s focus is media outreach. These students take photographs and videos to showcase the project. They also interview their fellow classmates about the project to highlight different student activities and the importance of conducting the beach clean-up. The final focus group collected water quality sampling in Lake Huron, near the mouth of the Au Sable River. Students took water samples, pH readings and more. This initial data collected in 2013 is used to set a baseline for water quality sampling at AuSable Shoreline Park.
In order to better communicate their water quality data and findings to the public, students presented at the Northeast Michigan Youth Watershed Summit in the spring of 2013 and 2014, and they are looking forward to presenting again in the future. Earth Science and Chemistry teacher, Mike Berenkowski, is enthusiastic about getting his students involved in place-based education, because of the real life experiences it gives students. These watershed related projects give students the opportunity to conduct water sampling, collect and organize raw data, and explain their scientific findings to their local community. By partnering with elementary students to teach them how to conduct a “fair” scientific experiment, these students also teach others and become leaders in their local watershed. This strategy allows students to directly use what they have learned throughout the year by working with elementary students to better their community and the overall quality of their watershed.