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Mac Middle floats on at Mississinewa
7th graders take STEM field trip
By Eric Stoff, stoffe@maconaquah.k12.in.us

Maconaquah Middle School 7th graders received a taste of the great outdoors last week on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field trip at Mississinewa Reservoir.  

Students spent the day rotating between three stations where they learned cross-curricular STEM lessons. At the first station, they tested “barges” that they created out of recycled material. At the second, they used nets to take samples of small life forms called benthic macroinvertebrates. And at the third, they learned about eagles and birds of prey at the reservoir.

Seventh grade science teacher Patrick Redmon said the students “really enjoyed the day.”

“Learning outside invigorates students mentally and physically,” Redmon said. “Nature provides an infinite source of wonder, and it peaks the students' curiosity, gets them asking questions, investigating, observing, and making memories which can be referenced in the classroom for further conceptual learning.”

The barge station was at the beach area of the Miami State Recreation Area. As part of their social studies class, students learned about how ancient civilizations used watercrafts to transport dry goods. They also learned about the ratio between water and air to make devices float in math class.

MMS Social Studies Teacher Alyson West said students had one day at school to create their barge, and two different trials at the reservoir. Barges were deemed successful if they held a gallon jug of water out of the water for 30 seconds.

At the pond station, students used nets to collect mud and plant life from the water. They searched for small lifeforms, called benthic macroinvertebrates, Redmon said.

Seventh grader Hayden Maiben said the students drew pictures of the lifeforms and labeled them. Then they learned from DNR staff that use the lifeforms to study water quality.

“I didn’t know there were that many different bugs in one place,” Maiben said, estimating 40 different kinds of bugs in one net’s scoop.

The third station was an educational presentation about eagles and birds of prey from DNR staff member Teresa Rody. She even had a live red tailed hawk to show the students.

Seventh grader Hayden Williamson said he learned a lot from the presentation, including the fact that eagles were reintroduced to Indiana in the 1980s and Mississinewa is now home to the largest eagle roost east of the Mississippi River.

Redmon thanked the DNR staff for working with the school’s schedule and leading activities with the students.

“It was such a great opportunity for students to meet these professionals,” he said.