Kosciusko Lakes and Streams Center at Grace College has found a way to connect local students with the lakes that are in their community – by bringing a small part of those lakes into the students classrooms.
KLAS sets up aquariums in classrooms so students can get an up close view of bluegill, catfish, pumpkinseed crayfish and other local species.
This year aquariums are scheduled to be set up in Lakeview Middle School and Eisenhower, Warsaw Christian, Madison, Pierceton, Claypool, Lincoln, Harrison, Syracuse, Washington and Sacred Heart Elementary schools. “We currently have funding for 20 aquariums as we had last year, but we hope to expand this to match teacher demand of around 30 aquariums in local schools,” said Dr. Nathan Bosch, associate professor of Environmental Science at Grace College and director of KLAS in an email.
“Our K-12 educational efforts impact over 2,500 Kosciusko County studetts each year and our Lake in the Classroom program is one of the most intensive since the aquarium stays with the students for the entire school year. We are trying to change a generation of young people to learn to value and protect our local lakes and streams through engaging programs like our Lake in the Classroom,” Bosch said.
Once the aquarium is set up in a classroom, KLAS staff introduces it to the students. Through its programming, KLAS routinely teaches students about the similarities between the classroom “lake” and the outdoor lakes in their community and how it is important to clean both so the fish in both remain healthy and people can enjoy them as well.
While the aquarium is in the classroom, students have access to a library of freshwater ecology books, keep journals and have in-class presentations to help them learn what they observe in the aquarium and draw parallels between what is occurring in the classroom and what is occurring out in the “real” lakes as well.
The aquariums are supported by sponsors. Current sponsors are: CenturyLink, Dekko Foundation, Winona Lake Preservation Association, Wawasee Property Owners Association, Da-Lite Screen, Silveus Insurance Group, Syracuse Lake Association, City of Warsaw, Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, The Papers Inc., Louis Dreyfus Commodities and Paragon Medical.
To become a Lake in the Classroom sponsor for an aquarium contact KLAS at 574-372-5100, ext. 6445.