Fun Filled Lessons about Life!

Submitted by: Nancy Burmeister

 

One of the real pleasures of serving the MRWA on the education committee is the opportunity to relate to children through learning experiences. Spring offers an opportunity to get children out of their classrooms into the real-life world for some very meaningful educational opportunities.

We have found water fairs are a great way to accomplish all of these goals and this year we executed two very successful events in May beginning with the Twin Lakes Water Fair on the 24th.

We have enjoyed working with Twin Lakes Third graders for several years. This year the program had a new name representing a new focus: Resources Adventure Day. We all know kids love an adventure and the program featured a ton of interactives games that captured the attention of inquisitive third graders.

The Twin Lakes County Park provides a great space to spread out and learn and that is exactly what the fifty-six students did, in groups of eight to spend a full day of learning

  • They learned how and why to plant small trees. Everyone took a tree home in a biodegradable bag that the students made.
  • They waded the edge of Twin Lake finding and studying macro-invertebrates that live along the shore.
  • They played a game that connected animals and their habitats
  • They took a close look at rivers from their source to their mouth to see where the water goes.
  • They went on a scavenger hunt and learned the value of natural resources and the importance of recycling
  • Finally, a predator-prey game called, Oh Salmon! gave students a chance to learn and run off some excess energy.

We wish to offer our appreciation to our good friends from Muskegon Conservation District and Camp Newaygo for their support and to the Twin Lakes 3rd grade teachers who made it all possible.

Clearly, we all agreed that the day was a huge success.

A Teacher’s Perspective

What does it look like for 60 third graders to be ENGAGED and having FUN learning about natural resources?  Check out this year’s Resources Adventure Day at Twin Lake County Park.  My students and I, along with my co-worker and her third graders, had the great opportunity to again partner with the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly to put on this fun learning day.  Our goal was to educate students on the topic of natural resources.  Well, not just educate them, but allow them to actually experience the learning with hands-on activities and adventure.  School often takes place within the 4 walls of a school building.  With the partnership of the MRWA, we were able to move kids outside and allow them to engage and interact with experts in their fields of study.  The kids added to their working knowledge of resources, water quality, tree planting, natural resources vs. man-made objects, water bugs, recycling, and much more. I am so thankful for the support of the MRWA and their numerous volunteers who are committed to educating our youth.  Their knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm have made a difference in the lives of numerous, inquisitive third graders.  From a teacher’s perspective, MRWA hit the target of our Resources Adventure Day.  BULLSEYE!

 

Kevin Richards
Third Grade Teacher
Twin Lake Elementary

 

On the next day, May 25, we lent our support to the Make A Splash Water Festival that was held at North End Park in Big Rapids. Two hundred ninety third graders from Big Rapids, Morley-Stanwood, Mecosta, St. Peters, and Crossroads Charter School attended.

In addition to the MRWA, partners for the event include Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District, Ferris State University, and Nestle Waters. 26 area high school students enriched the program by helping to teach and lead the third graders.

This event is part of Project WET, an international water science and education program for educators of students in grades K-12 that is sponsored by contributions from diverse public and private organizations and state sponsors

The Project WET curriculum developed by Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI), was the source for many of the lessons.

Bill and Nancy Burmeister, representing the MRWA, taught a lesson on the Muskegon River  Watershed. After learning the definition of a watershed, students studied an oversized topographic map of the Muskegon from Houghton and Higgins Lake all the way to Lake Michigan. They were able to find their school locations on the map and see how the water goes around high places and settles in low places.

Then, they used small watering cans and spray bottles to “make it rain on the watershed” so that they could observe the water moving downstream and emptying into Lake Muskegon and then Lake Michigan. They learned that the Muskegon River Watershed is part of the Great Lakes Basin which continues on to the Atlantic Ocean. AND, they learned that if you dump pollution into a tributary of the Muskegon it could go all the way to the ocean.

The students were well-behaved attentive learners, and we all had fun learning as we watched the real Mighty Muskegon flow by us at the park.