Mrs. Katherine Condon represents an organization called My Observatory which will make available the software for students to use in mapping out the sites for aquaculture. Mr. Eben Franks, chair of the STEM Science Board, is also working on a grant for equipment that can be shared with a number of institutes including Bristol Community College, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and the Sandwich STEM Academy. Plans are underway to bring the STEM students to the site early next spring to begin the collection of the data.
Sandwich High School students will also be involved through the Environmental Technology class taught by Mr. Mark Gilmore. These seniors will have the opportunity to visit the sites next semester and then share their knowledge and data with the 8th graders. Mr. Deconto envisions that this program will be ongoing and allow students to participate in a long-term project that will benefit the town while giving students the opportunity to learn about their local environment and solutions to current problems. As Mrs. Hyde-McGuire wrote, “Students play a leading role in their community to illuminate and problem solve on their home turf.”
Other plans include field trips to some of the local shellfish head start facilities, including the photo bio reactor system in Yarmouth which is part of the Lewis Bay Project. There will be opportunities for high school internships and mentoring of senior projects as well. Mrs. Ferreira wrote that “This first year we hope to familiarize the students with shellfish biology and the aquaculture industry and to learn to utilize some of the equipment for water testing and site assessment.”
One of our most important goals for the STEM Academy has been to give students the opportunities to engage in authentic problem solving while teaching them basic core concepts. We are also committed to project based learning and interdisciplinary studies. The Shellfish Restoration Project is another example of this approach to middle school education. As Mr. Deconto noted when he spoke to the Science Advisory Board, this is probably the only aquaculture program of this kind on the east coast. We are seeing a growing interest in shellfish aquaculture, water quality, and their effects on the economy on Cape Cod. It is also important that our students learn about these issues.