Middle School Students Learn from Experts and Become Environmental Stewards During Hands-On Exploration of Onondaga Lake Watershed
Seventy middle school students from nine Central New York school districts completed Honeywell Summer Science Week at the MOST on Wednesday, July 17. The weeklong exploration of the Onondaga Lake watershed inspires students to pursue science, technology, and math education while becoming environmental stewards in their community. Students studied local birds in their habitats, bug collecting, water-testing, and GPS sampling procedures. This was the eighth Summer Science Week.
Students got their hands dirty as they helped to plant a hummingbird garden. They learned from habitat experts and engineers from the Montezuma Audubon Center, Onondaga Audubon Society, Parsons, O’Brien and Gere, and Honeywell about diverse habitats and their importance in supporting the watershed and its value as an Important Bird Area. The planting of the hummingbird garden was organized by the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps, which offers opportunities to participate in activities that help restore and sustain the watershed.
“It’s important to learn how to preserve the environment correctly, to keep the ecosystem in balance,” said Honeywell Summer Science Week participant Ezra McKeon from West Genesee Middle School. “I would highly recommend this program, it is quite the experience. You see things that you wouldn’t see every day, you meet new people, you meet scientists and engineers, and it is an incredible opportunity to learn what Honeywell is doing for the Onondaga Lake cleanup. I think it’s an incredible job that they are doing.”
On Monday, July 8, New York State Senator David J. Valesky, Honeywell, and the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology (MOST) joined the middle school students aboard the Emita II tour boat on Onondaga Lake to kick off Summer Science Week.
Throughout the week, students participated in a combination of activities while learning an interdisciplinary approach to investigation, discovery, and resolution of environmental issues facing Onondaga County. Field activities included collecting water samples throughout the Tully Valley and the Onondaga Lake watershed, touring Onondaga Lake, and exploring Clark Reservation, Onondaga Creek, and Nine Mile Creek. Students learned from scientists and engineers about the watershed and environmental sciences.
“Honeywell Summer Science Week at the MOST has provided more than 450 Central New York middle school students field experience through hands-on investigations of the Onondaga Lake watershed,” said MOST Exhibits Project Manager Dr. Peter Plumley. “The weeklong exploration introduces students to their regional environment and gives them confidence to successfully pursue STEM topics in high school.”
“Honeywell Summer Science Week at the MOST offers middle school students an advanced hands-on science curriculum taught in the field by university professors, scientists, and engineers,” said Honeywell Syracuse Program Director John McAuliffe. “Our partnership with the MOST seeks to engage these students within unique learning environments and develop the next generation of innovators, scientists, and engineers.”
Summer Science Week activities also included visits to Heiberg Memorial Forest, Syracuse University, and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).
Honeywell Discovery Day
The students reunited one last time on July 17 during Honeywell Discovery Day to discuss scientific findings. The students were joined by family members and teachers as they presented reports on their observations. At the conclusion of Honeywell Discovery Day, the student-scientists received completion certificates and became “MOST Associates.” The title of “MOST Associate” grants each student a one-year museum pass.
Local participating organizations included the Montezuma Audubon Center, the U.S. Geological Survey, SUNY-ESF, and the Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection. Academic partners included teachers from middle schools in the participating school districts, as well as faculty and graduate students from Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF.
Honeywell Summer Science Week at the MOST was created by the MOST and is sponsored by Honeywell Hometown Solutions, Honeywell’s corporate citizenship initiative. It is part of Honeywell’s overall initiative to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and educate youth about habitat and conservation. Honeywell Hometown Solutions focuses on key areas of vital importance: Science & Math Education; Family Safety & Security; Housing & Shelter; and Habitat & Conservation.
For more information on the Onondaga Lake cleanup, please visit www.lakecleanup.com.