FRESH – Field Research in Earth Science Happenings
A Hands-On, Field-Based, Earth Science Program for Inner City, Middle School Students
A Collaboration between Faculty at Grand Valley State University and the
Grand Rapids Public School System
FRESH is a summer program designed to help middle school, inner city students gain a firm background in science and help them become comfortable in the field. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of under-represented minorities in field-oriented earth sciences. The activities, spread over two months, consisted of nine, half-day sessions based at Gerald R. Ford Middle School (GRFMS) in the Grand Rapids Public School System in western Michigan, and seven, full-day sessions based at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in nearby Allendale. We concentrated on the hydrologic cycle and related topics that address the Michigan Department of Education “Science Expectations”. To prepare the 20 students for the field activities, first we provided the students with class and laboratory activities at GRFMS and GVSU. In addition, using GRFMS as a base, the students went on several urban field trips to study rock types and weathering on buildings and in cemeteries, visit a sand and gravel company, and see the floodplain along the Grand River and a creek, which flow through their city. The five major field trips based out of GVSU involved data collection (e.g., elevation, flow velocity, turbidity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, grain size, mineralogy, wave size, longshore current direction, and wind direction and velocity), field sketches, and other observations. The students studied streams, beaches, dunes, water wells, and glacial features, and also collected water quality data while on a cruise on Lake Michigan, the Grand River, and Spring Lake. In addition, the students ate outside whenever possible, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, used topographic maps and Google Earth, learned about the importance of a college education, toured GVSU, and helped put together this website (Weeks 1-4). Finally, they took part in a Closing Celebration at which they ran an open house for their families and other guests highlighting the work they did over the summer, received Certificates of Accomplishment, and enjoyed pizza and chili dogs.