There used to be a mobile science education program that roamed Northern Alberta communities, they had a green van with a dragonfly stuck on a frog’s tongue as its logo, they were called Mad About Science. The program leaders would roll up to a new town every week and prepare for a whirlwind of adventures with local elementary school kids, and sometimes summer camps filled with eager young minds. Each day at the summer camp version had a different theme, wetlands, forests, microscopic worlds, cosmology (not to be confused with cosmetology, or the study of cosmetics/beauty), and more.
I’ll never forget when I was enrolled in the wetland camp day, we were given nets, ID sheets, and then were set free on a pond for 20 of the most exciting minutes of my life to that point (I was 8, and I LOVED bugs). As I got older the opportunity for those kinds of experiences diminished, until I realized that there needs to be adults to host those kinds of programs.
In 2016 one of our partner organizations was given a grant to create a program for middle to high school students, to bring more of the science element to the days of catching bugs and identifying bugs, its name? Xstream Science! I think it’s a fitting title, and is certainly clever, given that it focuses on water quality testing through biotic and abiotic (living and non-living) factors in rivers, streams, and other moving water bodies. Students get outside to participate in hands-on, scientific inquiry by collecting biological, chemical, and physical data on the water and surrounding land. Its all the thrill of wetland camp, with a dash more science, a sprinkle of math, and a splash of geography.
X-Stream Science has 3 parts: an in-class presentation where watershed experts will provide an overview; the Stream-Side Experiential Learning Fieldtrip, and a high school specific In-class data analysis and debrief. The program is designed for students from grades 8-12, and is differentiated between the middle and high school programs by the post-trip debrief and a certificate of completion that is available for high school students. Our goal is to help students understand the importance of water monitoring, the role of land and water management in maintaining environmental health and sharing these incredible scientific experiences with our youngest watershed residents.