Oct 032014

Plainwell students learn about the wetland soils at PCCI on the geology hike

On October 2, over 90 students from Plainwell middle school’s STEM academy visited the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute for Environmental Education. K-12 partnership and STEM teachers Lisa Wininger, Heather Damick, and¬†Momoko Montgomery teamed up with GK-12 Fellows Di Liang and Bonnie McGill, plus PCCI educator director (and former KBS K-12 partnership coordinator) Sara Syswerda to lead students through activities on PCCI grounds. Students were split into three groups and rotated through three activities: water sampling, macroinvertebrate sampling, and a geology hike.


A student shows off a very large leech from the retention ponds

During the water sampling activity, students were trotted down to the beautiful Cedar Creek and were guided through sampling of water temperature, flow rate, pH, and dissolved oxygen. Leader Sara S. engaged the students with lots of questions and hypothesis formation on how the creek’s abiotic factors contributed to the diversity of animals that could be found there.


Water sampling of Cedar Creek with Sara Syswerda, education director at PCCI.

On the geology hike, the students learned how the Pierce Cedar Creek watershed was formed by glaciation long ago. One of the most interesting revelations was that a large, circular hill, called a kame, in the middle of the property was caused by sedimentation deposited at the base of a huge waterfall in the glacier long ago.


Enjoying the beautiful fall weather!

Perhaps the students’ favorite activity was the macroinvertebrate sampling in the retention ponds near the visitors’ center parking lot. Tons of wriggling and squirming critters including tadpoles, water boatman, dragonfly nymphs, frogs, and a plethora of leeches were counted and identified. Considering the volume and diversity of critters found in dip net samples, the students concluded that the PCCI retention ponds were very healthy!

All participants in the field trip thoroughly enjoyed the day! Thanks to all who made such a wonderful and educational visit possible.


Fellow Di Liang shepherds students back on to the bus for the return trip to Plainwell.