We had a rewarding program with Squaw Valley Prep. The students got to spend three days outside doing their own great research projects (and playing a few games as well). The most amazing part is that the students really asked their own questions based on their interests (the groups did very different projects) and with help from their HSI instructors figured out how to complete the research. Lastly, they spent time making graphs to try to understand their findings and then had a discussion about what it meant in terms of their hypotheses and the broader scientific world.
The first project was on Toad Habitat. The students wanted to understand how the drought was potentially affecting toad habitat in Van Norden Meadow. Check out their powerpoint:
Another group studied water percolation in the meadow. They compared the different layers of meadow soils to see how percolation rates differed for different soil types.
The last group managed to pull off two projects in just three days! They compared the stickiness of sap among local tree species and tried to figure out what that meant for tree protection; their second project compared both toad size and the number of macro-invertebrates in the meadow between the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Remember, these student-created presentations were the culmination of three days worth of making observations, asking questions, and collecting and analyzing data. Not bad for middle-schoolers!