Kenwood students visit prairie and become citizen scientists


More than 100 Bowling Green students were introduced to pollinators, seed balls and air temperatures in the third annual BioBlitz.

Kenwood Elementary fourth and fifth graders spent Tuesday morning in the prairie at Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve.

This was the first BioBlitz for the 110 students was attended.

“I really hope they have an appreciation for some of the things that are in their backyard,” said Kenwood Principal Mike Bechstein. “I really want them to explore and understand the science around them.”

This was also Bechstein’s first BioBlitz.

“I’m excited to get the kids outside and learning in a beautiful park we have here,” he said.

BioBlitz gets students outside into outdoor classrooms.

“Kids love to do science, and this gets them out of the traditional classroom setting and gets them outside learning about the prairie,” Jenna Pollock said.

Fifth-grader Blair Baldonado tests the air temperature with the help of BGSU student Olivia Fleet.

Pollock is an education program manager at Bowling Green State University’s Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education. Twenty-five future teachers who attend BGSU helped lead the students to the four stations and assisted with the activities.

“The goal is for them to see themselves as citizens scientists, to know that they can contribute to the larger scientific community by taking observations and documenting things that they see in nature,” Pollock said about the elementary students.

She added she hopes the day will instill a love of science and outdoor environmental education.

Students experienced four different activity stations in the Wintergarden Park prairie. They measured soil and air temperature, used an iNaturalist app to observe living things, made seed bombs to take home and learned about animals that live and adapt in the area.

“By the time you leave, I want you to be able to go home and talk to your family about what you did today as a citizen scientist,” Pollock told the students.

She challenged then to let their curiosity get the best of them and ask a lot of questions.

‘It’s really just fun, it’s exploring nature,” said Daric Morrison, who is in fifth grade. “This is really a special occasion for me.”

He said when he got home, he was going to tell his parents he had a lot of fun at a nature park.

Alex Burris, with the Toledo Zoo, shows a coyote pelt to students.

Marie Thomas-Baird | Sentinel-Tribune

Students will take the day’s experiences and return to the prairie they have at Kenwood and apply some of the knowledge they gained, said Angie Schaal, executive director of teaching and learning at Bowling Green City Schools.

Project PRAIRIE, in partnership with the Toledo Zoo, was introduced to Kenwood Elementary last summer.

“I want them to leave with new knowledge from the centers that they participate in and also just this great experience they make as a memory,” Schaal said.

Fifth-grader James Fisher said he was enjoying the day and enjoyed making the seed bombs.

Schaal praised the partnership the school system has with BGSU and its willingness to provide such opportunities to students.

“They love this day. They get all excited over it and they talk about it forever,’ she said. “It’s one of those experiences they don’t forget.”

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