A state MISTEM grant is facilitating new K-5 lessons to be introduced in 2023.
22 June 2022
Through a recent grant from the state’s Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, and the Mystem Network, Albion College is partnering with Marshall Public Schools (MPS) to develop curriculum for Harrington Elementary School that focuses on freshwater research. The core in literacy will teach grade-level concepts. K-5 students.
Starting in January, the WaterSmarts project will involve 16 MPS teachers and 300 students in problem-, location- and project-based learning, with lesson plans for both in and out of the classroom this summer and fall. With a focus on the nearby Kalamazoo River, students will learn about the vital importance of groundwater through concepts that match their grade level and are linked to state standards in science and social studies.
“The biggest motivation for me was to encourage community people, especially children, to connect with their natural environment,” says Dr. Joe Lee-Cullin, assistant professor of Earth and Environment at Albion College. Student of Education Sarah Stockton, ’23, Mason Darden, ’23, and Mikayla England, ’24. “I think it’s especially important to have a conversation about groundwater, which a lot of people never think about,” Lee-Cullin says. “Groundwater plays such an important part of our daily lives as the primary freshwater resource that we depend on it not only in our homes but in every industry from agriculture to textiles.”
Dr. Ellen Wilch, currently an administrative assistant and former groundwater hydrologist, educator and consultant with the College’s Department of Earth and Environment, was a co-author of the grant proposal and emphasizes its community-building components in addition to students’ core education . Result. She mentions that the NAACP Albion Branch, the Albion District Library, Albion Big Reed and the college’s Center for Sustainability and the Environment have all expressed interest in collaborating in the coming months.
“We’re doing our part to create school and community partnerships. For example, I think it would be really interesting to do some local history,” Wilch says, of Albion’s 19th-century identity as a mill town. By citing. But she also describes the present-day connections that Grant will foster. “Marshall is a river a little below Albion, and there must be more ways we can build community between Albion and Marshall. We have a shared history of being a Kalamazoo River city; we share that history.”
In weekly lessons from January to May 2023, the basic education set up in Harrington classrooms during the winter months will go out until spring. Field trips to a working water mill, a nearby fish hatchery, and Lake Michigan are planned, along with regular excursions to the Kalamazoo River through the college’s Whitehouse Nature Center next door.
“It’s an exciting opportunity. Students at Albion are lucky to have a beautiful freshwater resource basically outside their school door,” says Harrington co-principal Karen Hall. “The overall curriculum includes reading and maths. With such an emphasis on science, it is important to provide solid science lessons for our students. I hope this sparks interest in learning about the environment in which we live and instil a love for nature and preserving it that students may not have had before. ,
Moving out of the groundbreaking focus, the spark of learning is a really broad target.
“Kids are always curious when you give them the opportunity to be like that,” says Lee-Cullin. “I hope we have a robust and fun program that can be passed on and used by teachers at MPS. Being prepared for a future that will almost certainly bring with it a water crisis is extremely important. The education of the subject is an important step towards fixing the problems of the society at large.”