Over the summer, the western basin of Lake Erie experienced some environmental issues related to water quality, so area students were enlisted to help resolve the issue as part of North Central Schools’ problem-based learning week.
Over the course of time blue-green algae had bloomed and covered most of the western basin of the lake, creating a need for potable water in the greater Toledo area.
Inspired by a field trip to Stone Labs on Lake Erie’s Gibraltar Island, students were asked to research why this happened and create a way to make potable water in response to the issue. The work all took place over the course of a week.
“It was one of the best field trips I’ve ever been on,” said North Central Principal Tim Rettig.
“Last year we did catapults — we made it cross curricular (all subjects)” said Rettig. “We throw out the (regular) schedule for a week.”
First, science teachers at North Central concocted a formula to make algae water. The students were then provided with equipment to create filters.
The seventh through 12th grade classes of all subjects — English, math, social studies and science — were involved in the project.
The English classes divided up into groups, each of which created an infomercial to advertise their product. The infomercial could be created in either video or PowerPoint form, to be submitted or presented to the teacher.
Math students learned about water filtration systems as they prepared for the associated activity in which they researched, designed, built and tested their water filters. After the lesson, the students would be able to utilize proper mathematical terminology, use reasoning and strategy skills, read design and construction procedures and make adjustments to their models.
Students managed the funds necessary to order and purchase required materials using multiple forms of currency including cash, checks and debit; students then submitted budgets and ledgers of store purchases.
“We had a whole sub-economy set up with this,” said Rettig.
Flow rates were measured by each individual team member and then analyzed by the team.
The social studies aspect of the project consisted of finding three articles related to the problem and/or the cause of the water crisis in the greater Toledo area. Two of the articles needed to frame the issue by providing two different views of the problem. The other needed to provide a neutral and unbiased approach to the problem.
Finally, the science assignment consisted of providing a proposal outlining items necessary for filtration with justifications for approval from a teacher, eventually creating a filter that removes particulates, neutralizes pH, reduces water hardness and removes phosphorus. Students then could collect and analyze data from trials and designate a working filter for a contest. Lastly they produced a detailed document with a conclusion.
Teachers were able to provide guided explanations but much of the work was done independently by the students.
On Jan. 20, students showed off their results and held a graduation. Though winners were selected, Rettig was proud of the whole school.
He was especially pleased with “just how tuned in they get to this project,” he said. “The first two or three days they were really working on it. They worked hard at it. They had a lot of fun.”
- Seventh grade winners were Sierra Tingley, Chace Boothman, Cheyenne Keller, Garrett Stump and Eryn Shaw.
- 8th grade winners were Hayden Haas, Alex McStoots, Dylan Bryan, Clint Oxender and Makayla Miller.
- 9th grade winners were Riley Pannell, Eryn Ryan, Ashton Keller-Brown, Skyler JoHantgen and Allyson Fenicle.
- 10th grade winners were David Pinc, Nicole Newby, Isaiah Livensparger, Chandler E, and Veronica Pinc.
- 11th grade winners were Keeley Shaw, Heather McConnaughey, Dakota Pitts and Kirsten Mitchell.
- 12th grade winners were Reese Cogswell, Brady Zuver, Alaina Kemarly and Jakob Grodi.
Photo: Pictured, left to right, are Jacob Hopkins, Nathan Traxler, Trenton Sakos, Macayla Wildrick, Kaleb Faler and Brock Zuver. Staff photo by Alan Kittle
View original article at: North Central algae projects