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Elementary Students Taps into Water Quality

There’s a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program in Southwest Florida called the STEM Buccaneers Camp. Fourth and fifth-grade elementary Science Expo participants had to apply for a scholarship to attend the two-week camp. This year’s theme is water quality.

“We just saw green spirals, it’s pretty to look at, but it’s not pretty for the environment,” said Ann Marie Sheenan, STEM Buccaneers Camper.

“Seeing water from far away you think it’s like clear and it’s beautiful, but then when you see it close up it’s a lot of algae,” said Barbara Figueroa, STEM Buccaneers Camper.

Ann Marie and Barbara are just two of the 28 students chosen to participate in the summer research camp at Florida Southwestern State College.

“We are testing the water for like bacteria or algae or kind of bad things that affect the water,” said Ann Marie Sheehan.

The kids were split into different groups to test bodies of water on campus and offsite.

“Make the kids aware of the current problems that we are hearing, they hear so much on the news, they hear their parents talking they can’t go to the beach so the idea was to study water quality so they got a hands-on experience finding out what is in the water and we wanted to introduce some of the extra vocabulary words,” said Monica Baker, 4 th Grade Teacher Lee County Schools.

“We got to look underneath the microscope and there were actually moving particles, it was pretty cool,” said Ann Marie.

“Algae is a really big thing like on the news, so it’s kind of the thing we got to figure out and we got to stop it, why is this algae coming, how do we stop it, what do we do,” said Ann Marie.

The campers recorded the results from water testing in a notebook and their final project was a presentation of all the data.

“We’ve been doing problem and solution.” Barbara Figueroa

What is their solution for contaminated water?

“Clean up and recycle after yourself, so that nothing can blow into there and affect the water,” said Ann Marie.

“Be careful and don’t throw trash and save the environment so there’s not as much bacteria or algae,” said Barbara.

“The main goal is we want them to be excited about being the change, whatever that change maybe we want them to want to do something and to even if it’s just sharing with their neighbors, their friends some of the solutions and thoughts getting it to be a conversation,” said Monica Baker.

The camp was founded in 2017 by the School District of Lee County. It was also made possible by Florida Southwestern State College and Thomas Alva Edison Regional Science and Inventors Fair.

Reporting by Allyssa Dickert