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Moravia School District
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Seventh-graders set out to solve algae problem

photo of students making a presentation
In November, all seventh-graders were presented with a challenge: How would you tackle harmful blue algae blooms in Owasco Lake?

Then they set out make their plans a reality.

As part of the project-based learning exercise, representatives from the Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection Program and Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District met the students to discuss the nature of the problem and talk about some land management practices that already have been undertaken by farmers and other land owners, according to teacher Karen Schaub.

Then they used Tinkercad, an online design program, to build and then render their systems with a 3-D printer.

“When you’re engaging students with a real-world problem they’re more empowered to find a solution,” Ms. Schaub explained. “And then you have to bring in real-world experts to evaluate their designs.”

Those experts – from Owasco Flats Nature Reserve, Owasco Watershed Lake Association, the Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection Program and Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES – came to Moravia Middle School on Feb. 5 to hear the students, in groups of three and four, present their ideas in the school library – science-fair style. The experts, clipboards in hand, wandered among the posterboard displays, listening, nodding and asking questions.

The top three teams, as rated by the expert panel, were: “Floating Gardens” by Jenna Grey, Nolan Conningsby, Adrielle Burke and Heidi Anderson (first place); “Solar Powered Turbine 321217” by Evelyn Sisson, Bebe Balk and Chloe Hanson; and “Water Stairs” by Dallas Carr, Ella Harriger, Liam Marcellus and Travis Hacker (third place). The winners each received water bottles filled with Swedish fish candy and then joined their classmates for an ice cream social in the afternoon.

Four other teams also received honorable mention because the judges found it difficult to choose just three teams..

“The expert panel was extremely impressed with the creative ideas and presentations of all the teams,” Ms Schaub said.