Seventh Grade Applies Science Curriculum Through Stream Study Lab

This article was written by two talented seventh grade students, Gavin Maxwell and Colin Parnell.

Once again, Kennett Middle School’s seventh graders have had the exciting opportunity of participating in a stream study lab. This science lab allows students to learn about biology in a hands-on, real-world way by studying the Egypt Run Creek next to the middle school. The stream study lab, now 13 years old, has become an enjoyable tradition for students and teachers.

It all started in 2002 when the Kennett Middle School was moved to its present location in Landenberg. Once the school year had started, the science teachers were excited to use the Egypt Run Creek next to the building. They came up with the idea of the stream study lab, and it was a hit. The teachers then made three locations for the stream study – Headwaters, Rascal Flatts, and Gotcha Gully.

“The field labs were fun and engaging. It was an excellent incorporation of the seventh grade curriculum. It was a great experience to get out of the classroom and do something outside,” says student Ian Schut.

This year the Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry (ITSI) asked Kennett Middle School, along with two other schools, to let students try to complete their stream study lab packets. Since the lab takes all five days of the school week to complete, each teacher’s science classes do the stream study during different weeks. This year, Mr. Bowling’s science classes went first and were followed by Mrs. Leo’s classes and then Mrs. Coe’s classes. For the first few days of the lab, students found and recorded information about the stream’s acidity, amount of nitrate and phosphate, and dissolved oxygen levels. The classes also do a BOD test, Coliform test, a pH test and a turbidity test. They also analyzed what environmental factors may have affected these statistics and how related problems might be solved. While providing students with an interesting topic to learn about, this also gave students a chance to explore future career opportunities.

After the classes were done recording the information they found on the ITSI website, the classes did an activity called Critter Collection. In this part of the stream study, students worked in pairs to search for whatever animals they could find in the stream. Some of the critters found included salamanders, frogs, and several kinds of flies. Once they found an animal, students used paint brushes to pick it up and place it in a water-filled cup, where they could easily and safely identify it. At the end of class, students discussed which animals they had found and recorded the information.

“A lot of kids do not spend time outside in the woods. Most kids really enjoy the outdoor experience and remember it for years” states seventh grade Science teacher Mr. Tony Bowling. The seventh grade stream study is definitely an experience that younger Kennett students can look forward to. As unique, supplementary, and engaging as it is, teachers hope to continue doing this cherished science lab.