Steve Sturgis

Home state: Indiana
Organization or Facility: Clay Middle School
Grade(s): 6th
Subject(s): Science
Why do you think it's important to infuse Great Lakes topics in education?

Invasive Species pose a threat to our ecosystems, and our Great Lakes. My students are gaining an understanding of the fragility of those species we love to find in the Great Lakes and also how dangerous new invasive species would be if introduced to the Great Lakes.

Describe one of your favorite classroom experiences/activities associated with the Great Lakes.

“Everywhere we look, there are species damaging our natural ecosystems both now, and as we look into the future.” 6th grade science students at Clay MS were tasked with coming up with creative solutions for solving these ecological problems. Students presented to members of the local scientific community who are on the front lines of Indiana’s invasive species problems. Members of this professional audience included scientists from the following institutions: Indiana DNR (Department of Natural Resources), Purdue University, Indiana-Illinois Sea Grant, Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation, INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation), SICIM (Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management), HIP (Hamilton Co. Invasives Partnership), Hamilton Soil and Water Conservation District, and USDA NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service).

What teaching methods do you use to engage students in Great Lakes activities?

PBL – Project Based Learning. Creating projects centered around solving real problems creates a natural opportunity for students to learn curriculum in a more meaningful and engaging environment for learning.

If relevant, share some examples of how you involved scientist(s) in your teaching.

At the end of our PBL study “Invasive Species, Can They Be Stopped?” students present their unique solutions to the Invasive Species problem to a professional panel that consists of members of agencies that work directly with Invasive Species in the local community.

Please share some interesting student reflections on ways they have developed a stewardship ethic. Include how they inspired others to make a difference to improve the health of the Great Lakes watershed.

“I had no idea how many invasive species Indiana had wrecking ecosystems. This project was a fun way to learn about a species and come up with a clever way that scientists could maybe use someday to stop these invaders” – Student at Clay Middle School

Contact Steve Sturgis: [email protected]