Author: Kathleen Mulroy
Water quality is a subject that many north Idahoans feel passionate about. So when 250 Sandpoint Middle School seventh graders recently participated in the Outdoor and More science field trip to the University of Idaho’s Sandpoint center on Boyer Avenue, they were excited to don rubber waders and get involved in experiments on monitoring and measuring water quality.
Outdoor and More is a program initiated by SMS teacher Sandy Ross, with the collaboration of teachers Jeannie Lyon, Jacki Crossingham, Caitlin Sandell, Chantel Lackye, Kathy Prummer, Marcea Marine, Troy Holt and Jayne Davis. Ross applied for and received a grant from the Panhandle Alliance for Education to help fund the program this year. She says, "During the day-long field trip, students participated in hands-on science activities sponsored by experts in environmental science from the University of Idaho, the Department of Environmental Quality, Idaho Fish and Game, and the U.S. Forest Service. Students moved through activity stations run by these experts as well as SMS teachers, learning about environmental monitoring and measurement. Reusable water quality kits given to the students will continue to be used in follow-up activities in their core and science classes during the 2014-2015 school year.
Through the Outdoor and More program students learn about ensuring data quality and data upload to a student section of a national-level water quality database. Additionally, they become involved in team building, collaboration and communication, and creative problem solving. Plus, there’s no doubt that this type of program can encourage student interest in important STEM subject areas: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.