2017 J.B. Butler Science Grant Recipients

11 Oct 2017 12:10 PM | Jeremy McBryan (Administrator)

Jessica Arnold, James A. Long Elementary School, Putnam County (Palatka). Ms. Arnold will use the Butler grant to fund a vivarium building project in her classroom. James A. Long Elementary is a Title 1 elementary school in Palatka, FL. This grant will serve 3 writing/science classes of 20-­25 students (about 75 students total) in the 2017-2018 school year and will continue to benefit students for subsequent years, since many of the supplies are reusable.

This project will provide students with an opportunity to expand on their knowledge of ecosystems while building a partially closed vivarium system that can support both plants and animals. This will help foster knowledge of the importance of our most precious resource in ecosystems and will offer a real world example of the water cycle. Students will be able to observe and describe each part of the cycle. While creating the terrarium aspect of the vivarium, students will be able to study plant parts and the basic needs of plants. After creation, the students will be able to witness the function of respiration. This vivarium will also teach students the basic needs of living things, life cycles, and food chains through watching their animals grow and thrive in the ecosystem. As many of the items needed for this project are reusable, this project will benefit students for many school years to come.

Megan Baker, Jacksonville Museum of Science and History (MOSH). Education is at the heart of MOSH’s mission. To that end, educational staff develops and delivers unique curricula for diverse groups each year. In 2015-2016, they served 43,788 school children, 450 campers, 1,791 preschoolers, and 997 Boy and Girl Scouts. MOSH has more than 60 years of success contracting with Duval County Public Schools to provide a science curriculum to more than 12,250 students from fifty Title 1 schools. Age-appropriate experiments and hands-on demonstrations are designed for each group.

Funding from the Butler grant will allow MOSH to purchase supplies to support its Ecologics and Environmental Education program. Programs are delivered to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Troops, for elementary school campers, and for High School Earth Science and AP Environmental Science students. Classes are based in the Museum's HydroLogics exhibit. HydroLogics is a living outdoor exhibit surrounding the Museum's entrance that introduces visitors to xeriscaping - landscaping designed to preserve the natural ecosystems. Integrated plantings, a visible irrigation system and a series of educational signage initiate the public about sustainable practices and encourage behavioral changes. HydroLogics is the first impression of MOSH, and a natural extension of MOSH's drive to make sustainability part of our community's conversation.

Anne-Marie Davis, Oasis Elementary School, Cape Coral. Ms. Davis will use the Butler grants to purchase supplies to teach a variety of lessons to students in kindergarten through 5th grade. Supplies include solar desalination kits, water filtration its, pH test strips, pH test meter, measuring cups, containers, gravel for filters, charcoal for filters, salt and plastic bags. 

Lessons include:

  • Kindergarten-5th graders will all learn/review the water cycle by making and observing models
  • 2nd and 4th graders will participate in a water pollution simulation
  • 3rd and 4th graders will make water filters in their classes to remove the pollutants
  • 4th graders will make models to demonstrate erosion from runoff
  • 4th grader will experiment with fresh water and brackish water meeting
  • 5th grader will gather water samples to test the PH and experiment on how soil affects the PH of water
  • 5th grader will make solar power water desalination systems

Chris Rusnak, Nature's Classroom, Thonotosassa. Nature's Classroom is an environmental education center that is part of the School District of Hillsborough County in partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Each year Nature’s Classroom has the district's 6th grade students (approximately 15,000) on campus for a three day field study focusing on the Hillsborough River Watershed. The Butler grant will be used to help purchase replacement nets for the shoreline sampling activity.

Students at shoreline sampling are on an investigation into the health of the Hillsborough River. They wade into the water with a pair of water shoes (purchased with funds received from the award of the 2016 Butler grant) and a net, on a mission to collect, identify and study the macro-invertebrates of the river. Student's then compile data about the organisms and use it to make inferences about the health of the river. The data is also used to teach students about the nature of science and scientific research (i.e. data reliability, variables, forming hypothesis, etc.). The hands on nature of collecting these invertebrates with a net has helped reach students with a variety of learning styles who may otherwise lack engagement with more traditional educational methods.

The Butler grant will be used to replace 20 nets. The nets are very durable, withstanding the constant use by students for many years. The grant funding will help accommodate the increasing student class sizes, allowing each student their own net for exploration. These nets and this lesson have given hundreds of thousands of students a better understanding and appreciation of the Hillsborough River and where their drinking water actually comes from.

Somer Sutton, University High School, Orlando. With the help of the funds provided by the 2016 JB Butler Science Grant, students were able to conduct a six week long experiment modeling the process of cultural eutrophication. Grant funds for 2017-18 will be used to set up additional testing tanks that will become models for testing remediation techniques, including muck removal, algal turf scrubbers and the use of constructed wetlands for nutrient removal.

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