Swimming Upstream, Meeting in the Middle

Educators from West Milford Township High School in Passaic County were awarded a continuation grant from the Hipp Foundation in the amount of $9,429 to pursue their local ecosystem water study. Teachers Coleen Weiss-Magasic, Shannon Kimak, Lauren Maslanek, Justin Runne, and Leslie Spohn will carry out the same main objectives as the original grant, but will expand the focus to include more collaborative learning by sharing findings with students at other project sites.

The project begins by sharing successful strategies from last year with new teachers. A target stream will be identified for study, while components of the local ecosystem will be evaluated as to the impact each organism plays.

Both fifth-grade and high school students will learn lessons on the components of an ecosystem, topography, and water flow. High school and fifth-grade classes will partner to test and evaluate the target stream. Data will be uploaded using tablet PCs. Data will also be shared with students at other project sites. Data will be archived for use in subsequent years.

Fifth-grade students will create a classroom model of a stream ecosystem based on data collected. They will also obtain trout eggs to place in their model ecosystem and chronicle growth. After assessing the water quality of the target stream later in the year, students will judge if the health of ecosystem is acceptable for the release of trout from the classroom tank. 

The fifth-grade class will plan a time for trout release which will occur after school to allow all students involved to attend, as well as parents and interested members of the community. On the day of release, students will post the QR code for the field guide they created for that stream.

Thereafter, the field guide pages will be edited and uploaded to the website. Students will post their findings on the website. Teachers meet to evaluate the overall program success and plan changes for upcoming years.

For further information contact

Coleen Weiss-Magasic
School Phone: 973-697-1701, ext. 7367