Penn State Berks students and Olivet children partner for conservation program

Olivet children using the EnviroScape learning tool

Penn State Berks students led by Jayne Park-Martínez (foreground), assistant teaching professor, work with Olivet children using the EnviroScape learning tool to understand how pollution gets into our rivers and streams.

Credit: Penn State

READING, Pa. — Penn State Berks students and Olivet Boys & Girls Club children have partnered for a series of events related to science and conservation. There are two upcoming events that will conclude the program: one in which they will collect water samples from the Schuylkill River in northwest Reading from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 17, and a “Science Learning Day” from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Olivet’s Clinton Street location. 

These events are part of an ongoing partnership between the Penn State Berks Center for Academic Community Engagement and the Olivet Boys & Girls Club. The program is designed to foster the students’ and childrens’ love of nature, commitment to conservation, and enjoyment of age-appropriate scientific learning.

For the first event, the group will be sampling of the Schuylkill River for macroinvertebrate biodiversity. Penn State Berks students and Olivet children will wear puddle boots and use seine nets to catch “river bugs.” They also will pick up litter along the Schuylkill River Trail as they walk to and from the testing location. This event is dependent upon river levels.

The “Science Learning Day” is the fourth and final event in the program. Students enrolled in the Penn State Berks course “The Earth System and Global Change” will lead the day’s events. The Olivet children will move through stations and play science-related games created by Penn State Berks students to learn about the river’s macroinvertebrate life and what it reveal about the river’s health and pollutants. Olivet children who have attended earlier events will partner with the college students to share information on these important topics with their club friends who were able to attend previous sessions.

The program began with an introduction to the topics of science and conservation through activities and games. In September, a Macroinvertebrate Identification Day was held to teach the children how to collect and identify various benthic macroinvertebrates. The next event was a Water Pollution Learning Day in which students and children utilized an Enviroscape learning tool, on loan from the Berks County Conservation District. This tool helped educate participants on the factors that contribute to pollution of our waterways.

This partnership for science learning is supported by The Howard O. And Jean Beaver Endowment for Community Service.

About the Center for Academic Community Engagement

The initiative formerly known as the Penn State Berks Center for Service Learning and Community-based Research changed its name to the Center for Academic Community Engagement (CACE) this fall. Its mission remains the same, and CACE will continue to establish partnerships with agencies focused on social justice and mentoring/tutoring. CACE will also expand in the direction of social entrepreneurship. CACE also announces a change in leadership; Donna Chambers has been named director. Chambers is an assistant teaching professor of Spanish at Penn State Berks.

For additional information, contact Michelle Hnath, program assistant for the Center for Academic Community Engagement, at 610-914-7595 or via email at [email protected].