After our holiday break, our amazing scientists from EPSCOR, Livia and Janel, visited with a stated choice activity for our fifth grade students. This is an activity that was actually given to Burlington residents to find out what they valued most in terms of our lake and land use. The information, in turn, was used to provide information to lawmakers on big decisions in our area.
Fifth grade has been immersed in their watershed and ecosystems unit for the past few months and this lesson that EPSCOR delivered complemented their learning nicely, and allowed them to share their personal voices and values in thinking about choices we make that impact our lake.
Janel explained that we all have choices in life and sometimes that choices impact our environment. Students had to consider these three choices:
- Land use (forest, city or farm)
- Beach closures
- Fish consumption
Students had rich conversations with one another while engaging in the stated choice activity. What a great activity to do with fifth graders who are just starting to discover their own identities and personal preferences! They had to circle which of the aforementioned choices they preferred and find patterns to see which of the choices they felt most strong about. Some students were passionate about fishing, and keeping the ability to eat the fish out of Lake Champlain; while others, found as vegetarians, preferred keeping our forests large, water clean, and safe for animals.
The following week we revisited the issue of mercury content in fish. Students were full of questions about eating mercury and how it impacted humans, where it came from and if fish from grocery stores had mercury in it and were safe to eat. One student, analyzed the pictures in our State of the Lake pamphlets and came up with the easy explanation that we should eat less large fish than small and found that was true of both ocean and lake fish. This was one of my favorite lessons so far. Thank you EPSCOR!