Coweeta Aquatic Camp


Thanks to a partnership between Macon County Schools, the USDA Forest Service, the University of Georgia, and the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program, 30 area youth recently enjoyed a week-long summer camp geared toward integrating regional scientific knowledge, professional skills, and the arts.

With two sessions held during the weeks of June 17-21 and 24-28, Coweeta Aquatic Camp challenged rising 5th-7th graders both in the classroom and at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, where students engaged in hands-on activities pertaining to topics ranging from salamanders to stream ecology to stream chemistry. Jason Love, site manager for the Coweeta LTER, helped supervise the outdoor activities and field research conducted by students, which focused on the capture and identification of aquatic insects, the role salamanders play in the Appalachian ecosystem, and testing the waters of Shope Fork for phosphate, nitrate, and dissolved oxygen. Coweeta researchers were on hand to speak with the students about their various projects, and why Coweeta is a world-renowned site for the study of a number of ecological subjects.

Camp organizers and Macon County educators Jennifer Love, Sara Shook and Katy Huscusson emphasized the importance of encouraging students to explore creative ways of both acquiring knowledge and communicating information in a professional manner. On the first day of each busy week, campers met with Katie Gregg, a graduate student enrolled in the University of Georgia’s School of Art, to learn how to produce stop animation podcasts. Using iPads provided by Mountain View Intermediate School, students synthesized some of the topics that they had learned that week (the students were particularly keen on salamanders) into video format using “stop motion,” an animation technique used to create the illusion of movement of an object by combining a series of photographs in which the object is incrementally moved.

According to Love, “It is critical to get today’s youth outside, learning about the natural world. The camp was a nice balance between hands-on outdoor learning and returning back to the classroom to synthesize that knowledge using the arts and technology. Research has shown that this type of hands-on learning is much more powerful — going out into a clear mountain stream, turning over rocks and catching aquatic insects, and then going inside to look at the live specimens under a microscope, gives the students a much more meaningful educational experience than simply reading about these insects in a textbook.”

In time, the students’ work will be available online, at the Coweeta Listening Project’s webpage at https://listening.coweeta.uga.edu.

The camp represents just one of the many opportunities for public and youth engagement in the research taking place at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory. Utilizing funds from the National Science Foundation, the Coweeta Schoolyard LTER Program is yet another way the Coweeta LTER is promoting direct learning experiences about longterm ecological studies to elementary, middle, and, high school students, as well as their instructors. By exposing area youth to the unique opportunities provided by the presence of the Hydrologic Lab in the area, Macon County students continue to reap enormous benefits, posturing themselves early on for possible careers in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math. You can find out more about the Coweeta Schoolyard LTER Program by visiting www.coweeta.uga.edu/lterschoolyard.

 

Original Citation: The Coweeta Listening Project. Franklin Press. Column on "Science, Public Policy, Community." Page B4. July 3, 2013.

 

This column is produced by members of the Coweeta Listening Project (CLP), a branch of the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research Program. Views expressed here are not representative of the USDA Forest Service or the Coweeta Hydrologic Lab. Please share questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics at cwtlistn@uga.edu or Coweeta Listening Project, UGA, 210 Field St., Room 204, Athens, Georgia 30602.