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OR&R Staff Give Back and Make Science Come Alive for Students in Florida

NOVEMBER 21, 2016--Third graders transformed their lunchroom at Tangelo Park Elementary school last week into a city storm water drainage system, complete with houses, a gas station, and a marina. They watched in awe as their friends placed pollutants — such as cow manure (chocolate sprinkle), trash (oatmeal), fertilizers and pesticides (drink mix powders) — on the model landscape. Next, they spritzed the whole scene with spray bottles of “rain.” The resulting multi-colored, run off mess quickly revealed to them how land use, storm water runoff, and their drinking water are all connected. This amazing demonstration was part of a community outreach effort organized by OR&R scientist, Dr. Michel Gielazyn, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection scientist, Kimberly Pierce. These leaders, and several other OR&R senior staff members, were in town to attend the 37th Annual Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North American Meeting in Orlando, Florida.

SETAC is an important professional organization for thousands of scientists working in academia, business, and government. The meetings are an annual forum for OR&R experts to exchange information and ideas about management of natural resources and solutions to environmental problems.

Dr. Gielazyn assisted on the SETAC Program Committee and also worked as the SETAC Service Project Co-Chair along with Ms. Pierce. Together, they devised the hands-on classroom project, but they also coordinated a large collection of school supplies with help from Dr. Lisa DiPinto, another OR&R senior staffer. The visiting scientists donated backpacks, dry erase markers, and personal items needed for everyday success at school.
While the kids learned ways to help keep their water cleaner, the OR&R scientists really enjoyed giving back to the local community, while making science come alive for these future scientists.

For more information, contact Dr. Michel.Gielazyn@noaa.gov

Go back to OR&R Weekly Report.

Woman with group of children.
It is not every day that students at Tangelo Park Elementary school get to use chocolate sprinkles at school, but last week, that was the requirement as they simulated storm water runoff and its effect on our oceans as part of a drainage system model with OR&R scientist Dr. Michel Gielazyn. (NOAA)
Seven people posing for a group picture.
SETAC Service Project Co-Chairs, Dr. Michel Gielazyn (center left, white shirt) and Ms. Kimberly Pierce (center right, blue shirt) are surrounded by other scientists and school staff members who collected valuable school supplies in large blue bags (center) for third graders at Tangelo Park Elementary School in Orlando, Florida. (NOAA)