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River Reflections

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Keywords: I-pod, River Study, science, Podcasting
Subject(s): Science, English/Language Arts, Life Science, Podcasting, Technology, Journalism
Grades 3 through 11
School: Avondale Meadows Upper ES, Rochester Hls, MI
Planned By: Laura Amatulli
Original Author: Laura Amatulli, Rochester Hls
Our sixth grade students conduct water testing in our local area. They have completed environmental inventories on adopted watersheds for over 5 years. Each year they take a field trip to their adopted site and record the physical characteristics and the water quality.

Water quality includes collecting macro invertebrates and several other chemical and physical tests. The macro invertebrate creatures indicate the biological health of the stream. Students have started taking digital pictures of the riverbanks and use digital microscopes to collect pictures of the creatures. They report their finding to the local watershed council and participate in a student congress dealing with river quality.

In order to become more civic minded, students have started advocacy projects. They noticed that the stream banks show erosion; local native plants are showing decrease in the area, students have collected more data showing an increase in garbage along the riverbanks.

After reflecting on the experience and data collected about the river it was found that students needed to reflect more. In order to share, students have started a river advocacy project that includes podcasting their findings. Students use microphones, audacity software, and a desktop computer to create podcasts of mini informational shows to share with the community. They also create video public service announcements to relay the information they have found. They use televisions to review their work and share among classes before going public. The students are excited to share their findings and have been invited to the local watershed council annual meetings, city council meetings, and the local parks and recreation to present their work. The students have current partnerships with the Clinton River Watershed Council, City of Rochester Hills, Rochester Hills Parks and Recreation, City of Auburn Hills, GM Technology Center, and Project Earth Force.

First of all, the I-pods will be multi-purposed. Students will use their I-pods to access teacher pre-recorded directions while they are on the actual river study. When on the River Study the students are broken into small groups and survey the area. They have numerous stations to attend and only one science teacher. The parent chaperons, who do not have the river study background, will no longer be overwhelmed. Personal teacher direction for each group will be uploaded as mini lectures/podcasts in the I-pods. This is a valuable college prep skill due to the fact that many colleges are using I-pods for this educational purpose. No longer will students be confused on using the probe ware at each river station. They can turn on the group I-pod and have an instant mini-lesson. During the river reflections portion of the project, students will be able to utilize the current technology of I-pods to share their Public Service Announcements and the River Podcasts. The I-pod docking station will be used at the local functions that students are invited to. Community members are always eager to see the I-pod connection with podcasts. While we have presented in the past from a laptop, the local public wants to see the use of I-pods. (Our classroom does not have I-pods yet.) Students will be inspired to use I-pods in a new and exciting way that can be applied at home.

The home theater system with camcorder will give our classroom the real news station affect. Students will preview their video recordings and watch them. These same videos will be uploaded to their I-pods, also. Having the ability to showcase the work on a home theater system will validate the project even more for students. We will invite others into our classroom to view our newsroom. This newsroom will be used in many other projects like ecosystems, land use, health, and weather. Our river study advocacy projects as well as our weather shows will be exciting to review and edit using a real home theater system. Students are sure to add to this each year as they are inspired by the technology they have that all starts in the palm of their hand!
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Poetry - River Poetry
Poetry Slam with an I-pod Karaoke Machine
Frog Survey
Wildlife Study
Advocacy work
Presentations to local government
Materials: Database, Spreadsheet, Word Processor, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries, Camera Bags, Digital Voice Recorders, Wildlife, Web Page, Slideshow
Other Items: 10 I-pods, $ 300 each, total of $3000.00