Kids in the Streams at Coweeta Summer Camp

 

Camp attendees learn about stream ecology at Coweeta. Photo by Jennifer Love.
Camp attendees learn about stream ecology at Coweeta. Photo by Jennifer Love.

Thanks to a partnership among the U.S. Forest Service, Macon County Schools, the University of Georgia, and the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program, 30 young people in rural North Carolina recently enjoyed a week-long summer camp that had them searching under rocks for crawdads and salamanders, making animated podcasts, and testing stream waters for phosphate, nitrogen, and dissolved oxygen.

The camp was hosted at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory (Coweeta) in Otto, North Carolina, and was geared towards rising 5th to 7th graders. Jason Love, site manager of the LTER program, supervised the outdoor activities and Macon County educators Jennifer Love, Sara Shook and Katy Huscusson organized the camp.

“The camp was a nice balance between hands-on outdoor learning and classroom activities,” says Love. “Going out to 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.”

The camp wasn’t just about acquiring new information. “It’s important for students to explore creative ways of communicating what they learn,” says Love. On the first day of each week, campers met with Katie Gregg, a graduate student at the University of Georgia School of Art, to learn how to produce animated podcasts. Using iPads provided by Mountain View Intermediate School, students synthesized some of the topics that they learned about into video format, using an animation technique called “stop motion.”

The camp represents just one of the many opportunities for public and youth engagement in the research taking place at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Coweeta Schoolyard LTER Program is yet another way the Coweeta LTER is promotes direct learning experiences about long-term ecological studies to elementary, middle, and, high school students, as well as their instructors. Because of the presence of the Coweeta Hydrologic Labortatory, Macon County youth get the opportunity to learn more about the unique area they live in as well as explore the possibilities of careers in science, technology, engineering. and math. 

–Adapted from information supplied by Ben Woodward and article published July 5 in the Franklin Press.

For more information about the camp, or about the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research Program, email Jason Love at jplove@uga.edu

For more information about Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory, email Chelcy Ford Miniat at cfminiat@fs.fed.us

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