Children from area schools have been given the opportunity to watch the development and interaction among parts of the region’s most prominent ecosystem, lakes. Through Grace College’s “Lake in the Classroom” program, classrooms are given aquariums for the students of that class to care for and learn from.
According to program manager Anna Burke the project is intended “to bring the lake into the classroom for the kids, specially the kids who might not be able to access the lakes in our area on their weekends or vacations.” Burke went on to explain how the program was aimed to parallel taking care of the class aquarium with taking care of the lakes of northern Indiana.
The project has undergone several tweaks since its original inception six years ago. The main one being Grace College’s presence in the process. Burke explained how the college previously just gave away all the necessary materials to the schools and the teachers. This posed problems for funds were not always available to the teachers to fix or replace faulty components, thus the project was not living up to its potential. Under the current system, Grace College owns the materials and sends college students over to install the aquarium systems, as well as maintain them throughout the year and then disassemble them at the end of the year.
Burke stated that the project currently has a waiting list of classes hoping to participate. There are 25 aquariums in more than 15 area schools. Due to the correlation with the natural history of Indiana classes that are generally taught in the fourth grade, the project’s efforts were originally geared toward that grade only. Due to demand, that has since changed and the project has expanded to classrooms ranging from kindergarden to eighth grade.