Broadening Students' Perspectives of STEM Disciplines by "Getting their Feet Wet" in an Ecologically Enhanced Stormwater Basin

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 4:56 PM
Anna Evangeline Normand1, Elise Sabina Morrison1, Wesley Henson2 and Mark W Clark1, (1)University of Florida, Soil and Water Science, Ft Walton Beach, FL, United States, (2)USGS, Gainesville, FL, United States
“It was really fun to get down and dirty in the wetlands. I learned a lot.” “It was informational towards different careers in this field.” In summer 2014, the University of Florida (UF) Wetlands Club developed a program that exposed rural high school students to different approaches and STEM career paths in earth sciences: hydrology, ecology, soil assessment, and environmental engineering. In total 90 students “got their feet wet” in an ecologically enhanced stormwater basin on UF’s campus. Students learned about wetland STEM careers at four stations that were led by Wetlands Club graduate students and STEM professionals. Students “felt a close interaction with the environment” and got “to learn a lot through hands-on experience”. At each one hour station, students performed field measurements in the wetland and discussed career opportunities with the instructors. Students at the hydrology station “enjoyed checking the water levels and seeing how rain affected the wetlands”. Students “liked how we were able to interact and identify species from duck weed to water bugs” at the ecology station. At the soils station, students “enjoyed taking samples and analyzing the soils texture and pigment”. Students at the engineering station “got to see all the math behind wetlands…and learn what it takes to become a hydrologist”. This pop up talk will share our instructional design for the wetland STEM career program. An accessible video will detail activities at each station. We will explain the successful aspects of the program and suggested improvements based on student feedback. We are excited to share how a to get a student to say that an earth science STEM career can be “really quite interesting for something I thought I had no interest in“!