Mobile classroom brings ecology lessons to pupils


March 06, 2000|By Sally Voris | Sally Voris,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Seventh-graders at Patapsco Middle School have been exploring nature -- in a mobile trailer parked behind the school.

Inside the portable classroom, teacher Becky Hawkins has led the pupils in activities to illustrate the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Hawkins works for the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, which supplied the trailer.

It has bookshelves and work space. Eight fish tanks, some with aquatic plants and goldfish, stand against the walls.

Seventh-grade science teachers Heather Vorhauer and Leora Caporaletti decided to have the trailer come to the school rather than arrange a field trip. So each day last week and the week before, young people came to the trailer for science classes.

Working in teams, they tested water in fish tanks for ammonia, nitrates, dissolved oxygen and acidity.

On Thursday, Hawkins showed them how salty, fresh and brackish water combine, as happens in the bay.

The pupils mixed fresh water (colored blue) and salty water (colored yellow) in a clear plastic column. Soon the teams had three layers of water -- blue, green and yellow.

"I need to find someone's column which looks really good," Hawkins said, surveying the columns. "Everyone's looks really good!"

Hawkins put a goldfish into one of the columns. The fish, naturally a bottom-feeder, swam straight to the bottom of the column but the water there was yellow -- and salty. So the goldfish changed course and swam to the fresh (blue) water at the top.

As pupils left class Thursday, they recounted what they had learned.

They studied Pfiesteria and phosphorus, Doug Meyer said. And they tested samples of well water to determine the levels of pesticides, Merissa Eide added.

Andrew Lassise said they had learned to test the water for dissolved oxygen and phosphorus to determine whether an environment was safe for fish.

"Overall, we learned how to test water," Michael Lee said.

Read to feed

Worthington Elementary School completed its annual reading incentive program, "Read-to-Feed," in which the children solicit pledges of food from family and friends based on the amount they read.

The school collected and donated 2 tons of food to the Maryland Food Bank. Fourth-grader Kelly Muedeking was responsible for collecting more than 800 pounds of it.

A neighbor in the food business -- who preferred to remain anonymous -- pledged generously to Kelly.

"She goes to him first and then to Mom and Dad," said her mother, Katie Muedeking. "She spends the month of January reading feverishly."

Kelly read 1,050 pages of chapter books in January, including "Little Women," "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul."

Jump, hoops for heart

More than 280 pupils and staff members jumped, hula-hooped or played three-on-three basketball games to raise money for the American Heart Association last month at Elkridge Landing Middle School.

The school raised $4,279.63 in its Jump & Hoops for Heart fund-raiser.

Congratulations to the winners: pupils Johnna Esposito, Jessica Chapman, Ashley Rabe, Krissy Shaw, Ryan Liggitt and Timisha Gomez, and teacher Carla Gonzalez.

Coins for Ronald McDonald

Third-graders Sierra Cannady and Katlyn Holley raised $519.23 for Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore by asking fellow pupils at Elkridge Elementary School to donate coins to buy movies and video games for children who stay there.

Ronald McDonald House provides a temporary home for sick children and their families who come to Baltimore for treatment.


Entries by Patapsco Middle School pupils William Jackson, 12, and Lawrence Walker II, 13, were accepted into the "Maryland Student Anthology 2000."

The anthology, sponsored by first lady Frances Hughes Glendening and Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools, will be published this month.

A poem, "Kites," by Megan Johnson, a third-grader at Deep Run Elementary School, was also selected.

Ellicott City residents Dawn Dorsey, Robert Graham, Nicholas Langridge and Katherine Stinner were named to the dean's list for the fall semester at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Vera Dianova and Jennifer West were named to the president's list.

Stephanie Grissom, a senior at Howard High School, has been chosen to join the National Youth Advisory Council of Youth Service America.

The council of 20 young people, ages 12 to 25, advises the organization about the activities and concerns of young Americans.

Shrove Tuesday

Local churches will hold pancake suppers from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow, the day preceding the start of the Lenten Season for Christians.

Elkridge resident Anna McKissick has organized a free pancake supper at Harwood Park United Methodist Church.

The meal will include pancakes, sausage, potato casserole, gravy, toppings, coffee and orange drink.

The church is at 6635 Highland Ave., Elkridge. Information: 410- 796-2037.

Melville Chapel United Methodist Church, 5660 Furnace Ave., Elkridge, will serve fresh sausage from Boarman's Market in Highland and pancakes mixed by church member Ed Head.

A free-will offering will be requested.

Information: Elizabeth Heinbauch, 410-859-3059.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.