Slideshow: Water a cool topic for first ‘Eco U’ camp

Nothing puts the “reality” into science camp quite like sampling a creek in 100 degree heat, standing in a huge expanse of an invasive reed species (Phragmites) towering overhead, exploring the evolutions of sand dunes on a Lake Michigan beach, running samples collected through testing in the lab, or getting an insider’s tour of a wastewater treatment plant.

These are just some of the experiences 15 high school students packed into three days of Eco-U: Water Resources Reality Science Camp at UW-Green Bay, July 15–18.

Geared toward giving campers a look at the wide range of potential occupations available in the natural sciences, students received classroom, laboratory and field experiences guided by the experts including five of UW–Green Bay’s Natural and Applied Sciences faculty members — Kevin Fermanich, Patrick Forsythe, Mike Zorn, Matt Dornbush and John Katers. The campers also had the opportunity to work with experienced high school science teachers and naturalists in taking water and environmental monitoring samples to be used back in the classroom to assess the ecological health of varying water bodies including Green Bay, Lake Michigan and two small tributaries.

Human impacts on water resources were also brought into the mix with presentations on storm water runoff impacts as well as a trip to the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District to learn about how things that go down the drain and “away” can impact the environment or, in the case of the GBMSD, require extensive treatment prior to release back into the environment.

As a wrap-up activity, under the supervision of Prof. Fermanich, campers worked in groups to analyze and make presentations on their conclusions regarding the environmental parameters they sampled and analyzed. An available option of taking the camp for one college credit was also available, and six of the campers took advantage of this opportunity to get a jump start on their college careers.

Laurie Case, UW-Green Bay’s sustainability coordinator and camp co-director, says Eco-U Water Resources Camp is a great example of the strengths of an education at UW-Green Bay, showcasing the interdisciplinary approach to tackling important natural resource issues and applying critical thinking skills to better understand a complex system.

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Story and photos by Laurie Case, Sustainability and Strategic Planning Coordinator