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Milwood Magnet Conducts Research
Linda Mah
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Milwood Magnet Conducts Research

Special Curriculum Advances Outdoor Exploration

Milwood Magnet School seventh graders learned about water health, conducted science experiments, and explored waterways for macro-invertebrate life at the Kalamazoo Nature Center (KNC) in November thanks to the KRESA/Project Lead The Way (PLTW) science curriculum and a grant from Bosch.

About 160 students visited the nature center for the threeday field trip of outdoor exploration and science work.

“During their day trip to the Kalamazoo Nature Center, PLTW students examined their connection to the natural world, and explored why environmental sustainability is so important,” said Debra Kolberg, a STEM teacher consultant for KRESA.

KNC educators led classes on Beech Maple trail, which is in an old-growth forest, and had students follow stream and river waterways to learn about water health. Students conducted pH and dissolved oxygen tests and then splashed in the river to look for signs of macro-invertebrate life. They examined bioaccumulation in food chains and participated in an oil spill simulation. For the self-guided portion of the day, classes explored a geothermal exhibit; were led on a short, guided hike; and were asked to consider the environmental impacts of different energy sources. Classes were also encouraged to examine KNC’s solar panel field.

“Students had a very full day of investigation and consideration of the planet we live on,” Kolberg said.

PLTW is a nonprofit organization that promotes science education by helping provide students with real-world skills in areas of computer science, engineering and biomedical sciences. KRESA and its Education For Employment program have been working to integrate it into schools in Kalamazoo County.

The seventh graders at Milwood have a PLTW class called Energy and the Environment, which studies alternative energy. All KPS middle schools offer three of the middle school PLTW courses: Design and Modeling, Medical Detectives, and Energy and the Environment. Kalamazoo Central High School has the Intro to Engineering Design as part of the EFE Electronics & Robotics class offered at the school.

Bosch provided the KNC grant to help expand environmental awareness as part of the middle school energy and environment class.

“Many students who have never been to the Nature Center were able to attend,” Kolberg said. “It was a fantastic experience for all.”

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