Teresa Blake, Lisa Collier, Kim Stone, Noel Muselin, and Teri Peters
“Seizing a Teachable Moment: Use of the Kalamazoo River Oil Spill to Improve Science Education” is Blake and her colleagues’ winning project. The Kalamazoo River runs through the village of Augusta and city of Galesburg, farmland, and two natural areas of rare, forested floodplain communities, and it is significant to the Galesburg Augusta Primary School students and their families, therefore it takes center stage in the project. Since the 30-inch underground pipeline burst in Marshall, Mich. on July 25, 2010, which released 800,000 gallons of oil into a small tributary that feeds into the Kalamazoo River, water quality, wildlife and the ecosystem have been threatened and has forced some families out of their homes. By engaging second, third, and fourth-grade students, their families, and staff of Galesburg Augusta Primary School, along with a representative from the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council and Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station, the team will assess the environmental impact on the river’s water quality and surrounding high-quality, swamp and native plant community located on the school’s property. Blake says the primary goal is to raise student achievement in scientific topics that can be linked to the oil spill.