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Environmental Student Study Science Up Close

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At the beginning of this school year, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Dominion Power awarded two grants totalling a little less than $8,000 to Mrs. Meredith Lohr, a science teacher at Spotsylvania High School. The purpose of the grants was to help the students in Ms. Lohr’s classes focus on STEAM – science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Mrs. Lohr teamed up with one of the art teachers in Spotsylvania High School, Mrs. Amy Laserna, to incorporate artistic studies along with the information the students were learning in her environmental classes. Mrs. Laserna came into the classroom periodically and taught different art lessons.

“One day she came in and did a whole lesson on colored pencils,” said Ms. Lohr.  “I wanted the students to really draw and study the elements of the animal or fish we were studying that particular day.”

The students then used their artistic and scientific learnings to construct journals. In the journals they created specific studies on bats, fresh water and algae. The journals had drawings that were focused on certain areas of the bodies or structures.

The students in Ms. Lohr’s classes were able to participate in some hands-on experiences during two field trips.

The first trip that Mrs. Lohr took the students on was a service project at Lake Anna State Park. The focus of the trip was to control the erosion of the beach front. The students camped in the park and canoed in the lake. They participated in water quality tests and a presentation from the park ranger about monitoring local bats.

On the second field trip, Ms. Lohr took 100 SHS students to the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center where they cycled through three stations: Build a Buoy, Geocaching, and Catch a Bay Critter.

“We had to make a buoy constructed out of pipes and zip ties,” said SHS senior Shane Holladay.

The students then experimented to see how many golf balls they could fit onto their buoy.

“We only got eighty golf balls on ours; our center of gravity ended up being too high,” said SHS senior Alfredo Gutierrez-Godinez.

The students participated in the “Catch a Bay Critter” where they had to get into the bay to find certain animals.

“It was fun catching the shrimp and watching the swallows. We saw Red Winged Blackbirds and a red fox,” said SHS student Kendall Morse.

The students that attended said they saw tons of shrimp and multiple people saw jellyfish.

“We caught jellyfish and small blue crabs,” said Gutierrez-Godinez.

Several students offered positive feedback about the trips and the hands-on lessons they explored with Ms. Lohr.

“Getting in the water and walking around and feeling everything on the bottom and on your legs was my favorite part of the trip,” said senior Taylor Sale. “It was interesting to see the jellyfish.”

Mrs. Lohr’s students incorporated art skills into the experience by creating watercolor paintings about the things they saw on their trip.

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