Category Archives: STEM Projects

STEMFEST

As part of The Cove Palisades and Culver Middle School’s ongoing partnership; students focused on learning about Raptors and helped extensively with OPRD’s Eagle Watch festival for the 2016-2017 school year.  They built a life size bald eagle nest that was almost six feet in diameter; large enough for an entire human family to sit in.  Students created original Eagle Mad Libs and poetry for visitors.

 

It was my honor to be invited to Culver Middle School’s STEMFEST this year.  Students show off the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) skills that they learned to school district administration, invited guests, media, and local elementary and high school students.  One of the main goals of STEAM is to be as student directed as possible.  The teachers may be used as resources however students need to come up with processes and conclusions or solutions on their own.  To that end, each student was tasked with becoming an expert on some Raptor related species or topic.   The projects were impressive and informative but moreover what was so exciting was how students put themselves out there and taught visitors about their bird of prey – using many of the interactive tactics we teach our OPRD staff at interpretive training.

STEMFEST 2017 038.JPGI will be using several student activities at Junior Ranger programs in the park this summer (photos:  making owls out of homemade play dough and guessing which eggs go to which birds).  As this is my fourth year it was also fun to see returning high school students that participated in STEM at The Cove still supporting and participating the current middle school students.

Culver Middle School Adopts The Cove

This year Culver Middle School has adopted The Cove Palisades State Park as part of their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program for the 2015/2016 school year.  “Culver Middle School is so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Cove Palisades State Park, creating real world life experiences that foster 21st century skills to be successful in the future while also arranging a solution to a problem right in our backyard,” says Mr. Brad Kudlac, Principal.

This year natural resource management is really the key focus.  Students are challenged to find solutions to real world problems in their community.  In this case they will be tackling threatened wildlife species, habitat loss from wildfire; as well as sharing local oral history.  Culver Middle School  teachers Mrs. Naomi Little, Mr. Mark Habliston and Mr. Jake Shinkle will bring several classes to the park throughout the year. Students will make significant differences in their community at The Cove by creating a certified monarch butterfly way station to aid in the butterflies successful annual migration, riparian restoration in a burned out area of the Crooked River Wetlands area and encouraging other children to learn about The Cove’s history.

One of the first projects undertaken is willow propagation to help restore sections of the Crooked River Wetlands that were burned in a wildfire over the summer.  This project has already piqued the attention of the Governor’s Office.  Everyone involved is really excited to make a difference that visitors and wildlife will notice and appreciate.

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Coyote Willow (Salix exiqua), photo credit USDA

Coyote Willow with it’s long, narrow leaves is the most distinctive of the willow species, is a perennial shrub, native to Central Oregon and much of the west.  This culturally important plant was collected by Native American’s for a variety of uses including food, medicine, building material and basketry material.    It is currently found in the wetlands and is important to birds and wildlife for cover and food.  Willow is also used as stream bank erosion control.

 

 

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Culver Middle School STEM Class

Twenty-four students from Culver Middle School, accompanied by their teacher Mr. Jake Shinkle, came out to the park and collected more than 200 willow cuttings from existing plants that did not burn in the fire.

 

Ms. Maggie Prevenas, OSU STEM Outreach Coordinator, taught students that plant communities are constantly changing.  These changes can be very subtle and can be undetected by the casual observer; however from a management perspective detecting change is essential.  Maggie showed six students how to take photo points.

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Mr. Shinkle and Ms. Prevenas working with students.

This method consists of taking photographs from two permanently fixed points to monitor change in the plant community over time.  Coyote willow roots freely from cuttings, and is an easy species to propagate.  Students are hoping for an 80% survival rate.  These cuttings were taken to the middle school and will be prepared.  The first step is to soak the cuttings in water.  Students will treat half of the cuttings with growth hormone and leave the other half in plain water.  Once cuttings sprout roots, they will be planted and cared for over the winter.  Next spring students will bring their new plants to the park and will repopulate an area that was devastated last August by wildfire.

 

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Wildfire at The Cove, August 29, 2015 – photo credit Jefferson County Fire

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  Area that will be rehabilitated.

 

Stay tuned for more news on all the projects and how they are progressing…

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