Each year, Kwiáht works with local science teachers and the San Juan Nature Institute’s Partners in Science to find new opportunities for classroom lab and outdoor-classroom science projects. Our goal is fostering long-term commitments by schools to specific nearby study sites (place-based research) and consistent longitudinal data sets. Here are some examples:
- Students at Lopez School have adopted the State-owned woodland on Lopez Hill—over a square mile of forested hills and wooded wetlands—for a long-term study of climate change and recreational impacts. A similar project is being developed at Mount Constitution on Orcas Island, in cooperation with Friends of Moran State Park.
- Our population genetics laboratory on Lopez Island and our environmental chemistry satellite laboratory on Orcas Island are located in schools to raise the technical level of classroom teaching, and give students opportunities to learn technical skills as research assistants, and develop senior projects with advanced instrumentation.
- Chemistry classes in the county’s middle and high schools will monitor urban runoff, and toxic loading of marine sediments and bivalves beginning in 2011, with start-up funding from The Russell Family Foundation. Kwiáht wrote a special laboratory curriculum for detergents and other surfactants to improve local students’ understanding of the fates and effects of household chemicals.
- Elementary and middle school classrooms throughout the county participate in our Amphibian Watch program and small-mammals road-kill studies, through which students learn to identify some of the islands’ least visible animals, and contribute to monitoring the abundance and distribution of species that tend to be especially vulnerable to human disturbance and climate change.