Science and Service Learning have long been seamlessly intertwined in my life since I started teaching full-time. Though I am no longer in a formal classroom, the two share an even larger part of my life. Hands-on, real-life science comes naturally to me. It is a major component of our daily living and learning. We seek out opportunities to put our skills to work and to learn about the world around us in a natural way. This is Unschooling at its finest.
Our Roots & Shoots group has been taking part in a great service learning opportunity called the World Water Monitoring Project for the past few years. The international education and outreach program builds awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens in basic monitoring of local water bodies.
Upon learning how to collect water quality data with our group, the kiddos asked if we could purchase our own. The cost of a Basic Kit (shipped to any location in the US) is just $13 plus shipping. At this price – I couldn’t pass it up! We now carry the kit with us on all our nature outings and it has provided us the necessary tools to engage in meaningful, hands-on science. I supplement the kit with other tools that I have used for years – including a Kestrel 3000 Pocket Wind Meter – a handheld weather-monitoring device that provides a wide range of functions.
We also make every effort to identify the little critters we capture in our nets. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but dichotomous keys are helpful and we carry a few laminated ones with us. We record our findings in a Rite In The Rain Journal. When we return home, we upload our data to the World Water Monitoring Project and if we’ve spotted critters, we upload images to Project Noah.
Our outings are more meaningful when we know that our data will be used to help the scientific community better understand our world.