Westminster, Colo. - While water quality parameters and testing zebra mussel DNA are topics typically reserved for the laboratory, several fourth and fifth grade classes were given a chance to dive in at the 8th Annual Youth Water Festival on Tuesday, May 15, at Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colo.
"They like science, but when you give them something to play with, it's another level," said Denise Hosler, with Reclamation’s Mussel Lab in her fifth year of attendance. "The kids love it being hands on."
Reclamation was set up in one of Front Range Community College’s biology classrooms, giving the mussel lab team the ability to set up the perfect, science-based learning stations. Each of the five attending members of the Mussel Lab team had their own workspaces, where they explored topics like invasive species, water quality standards and even how to spot a veliger, also known as zebra mussel larvae, under a microscope.
"It's important to expose the kids to real world applications," said Tanna George, a Biological Science Technician with the mussel lab. "They see it in textbooks and in classrooms, but to see it in front of them shows them what things are like in nature and that they can have futures studying this."
And, despite the Reclamation team claiming college degrees and hundreds of hours of study in their fields, the groups of 9-11 year olds had no trouble jumping into the lessons.
"They had just come off of a unit where they could relate some of the things we were teaching them," said Biological Science Technician Kyle Rulli. "They were teaching me things!"
"They ask some pretty interesting questions, especially when they realize these things clog up their pipelines," echoed Jeremiah Root, also a Biological Science Technician.
Featuring a total of 45 local, state, federal, nonprofit and private business presenters, there were plenty of activities and facts to enthrall the more than 1000 students in attendance. Reclamation welcomed at least five classes into its makeshift lab.
Released: July 23, 2012