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MWEE In Oklahoma at OSU

Grant amount:


Stillwater, Oklahoma

The students will be:

  • Measuring percentages of land use areas

  • Calculating the slope of runoff

  • Categorizing solid waste pollutants

  • Measuring quantitative and qualitative parameters at an adjacent stream

Student research experience:

James is partnering with an environmental science teacher from a regional high school with permission granted by the district superintendent. The students will conduct terrestrial and aquatic monitoring research using a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) via digital notebook platform to complete a local watershed report card. The MWEE guides students through completing a physical inventory of the stream’s bed, banks, terrace, and riparian area. They will contribute this data to a public database using the Canopeo© app. Meteorological data will be documented using GLOBE. Students will also perform water quality testing, grade the stream based on water-related chemical analyses, and catalog an inventory of any present aquatic macroinvertebrates. YLACES will be providing funds for the water testing kits. Water quality data will be contributed to Oklahoma’s Blue Thumb program and be added to their Data App Map.

Students will also use their class time to investigate the effects of plastic pollution along a stream corridor, neighboring their school yard. Students will design and create instrumentation for extracting plastic fragments in the riverine environment. Students will create a ‘material request and procedure sheet’ to be approved by the teacher and graduate student researcher. Foldscopes© will be used to analyze their samples for microplastics. The funding will allow for the purchase of these materials.

Students Training in Collecting and Sharing Data:

Students will be designated mock-career roles to engage with in their monitoring groups to model the dynamics of working as part of a scientific team. Group members will have an opportunity to assume the following leadership roles: a foreman (equipment manager), scientist (measurement analyzer), mathematician (perform calculations), journalist (recorder), and reporter (relay information). The students will be trained in tools of science, including water quality testing kits, hand-held land surveying tools, cartography, and data collection.

Additional data will be gathered in a university lab through the purification of field samples for identification and cataloging plastic pollution for research publication.

Sharing results:

Measurements will be correlated with rubrics in the watershed report card. All MWEE measurements will be documented in Google Slides to be quickly cataloged and shared. Students will analyze their data in interim and will then research solutions on how to improve the schoolyard. They will present recommendations to the school board on how to become a greener school. There is also an option to present at an open house or faculty meeting.

Assessment and reporting:

The main concept to gain from the students is to measure how their concern for their school’s impact on the community changes from before engaging in the watershed report to after completing the MWEE. The analysis will focus on the implementation of three key community and citizen science (CCS) processes through which the Environmental Science Agency is fostered: 1) ensuring rigorous data collection, 2) disseminating scientific findings to authentic external audiences, and 3) investigating complex social-ecological systems.

Mitigating Environmental Injustice:

Participating students will see through the watershed report card how their school and community impact local water resources. This will provide perspective on how anthropogenic refuse affects terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The goal of the graduate student is to create a protocol for quantifying and mitigating trash from entering river ecosystems to suit watershed monitoring organizations across the globe. Students will be presented with volunteering opportunities such as Microplastics Pollution Monitoring Program, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, and Litterati©. They will be encouraged to consider remediation recommendations and present them to the superintendent. If the classroom teacher and district superintendent agree, they can present it to the community and school board.

Opportunities for marginalized students:

The partnering school serves a primarily rural and poverty population, with the following school demographics: 3% Hispanic, 14% American Indian, and 12% of two or more races. The percentage of Yale High School students on free and reduced lunch assistance (57.3%) is slightly higher than the state average of 55.2%. The project will be presented to all classroom students in an inclusive environment. The project provides opportunities for growth in writing, communication, mathematics, and science. All students will be encouraged to consider participation in every aspect of the project, in a collaborative environment. Unfair advantages will not be given to any participant. In terms of physical accommodation, the students will be able to decide for themselves if they are incapable of participating in any steps or exercises.

Proposer’s Organization:

The project will be conducted with a rural senior high, environmental science class (30 students, equivalent to an entire graduating class in this school), under the direction of their classroom teacher and the graduate researcher. The classroom teacher may continue the schoolyard and stream site investigations with new groups of students from year-to-year as a longitudinal study to continue to address and improve the prevalence of environmental concerns. There will be an invitation to include other teachers and their students from other scholastic disciplines to capture the scope of the project as a full science-technology-engineering-arts-mathematics (STEAM) program.

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