Augusta students bring science to life in SRS program

Kimberly Fickling, Director of Environmental Education at RPSEC [left] and Taylor Rice, SRNS...
Kimberly Fickling, Director of Environmental Education at RPSEC [left] and Taylor Rice, SRNS Education Outreach [right] assist students in identifying macroinvertebrates under a microscope.(SRS)
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 5:22 AM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - More than 50 fifth and sixth-grade students from Heritage Academy, experienced a unique hands-on environmental class in the forests of the Savannah River Site to inspire early interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-based careers.

The Science and Technology Enrichment Program, STEP, is a cooperative effort with Ruth Patrick Science Education Center where lessons correlate to academic curriculum for grades three through 12 and utilize real-world investigations that focus on responsible environmental stewardship.

Director of Environmental Education at RPSEC Kimberly Fickling says, “We are connecting classroom standards to real hands-on activities that can spark students’ interest in STEM and careers in science. We truly bring science to life through these different opportunities.”

Attending students completed a macroinvertebrate count and watershed activity that addressed the human impact on healthy ecosystems and how pollution affects our major water sources.

“Today I learned that all organisms deserve safety and respect, no matter how small they seem. I loved examining the water scorpion up close under the microscope. These tiny organisms are so important to the health of our water systems,” Camden Robinson, a 6th grade student at Heritage Academy, says.

Heritage Academy Program Coordinator Westin Bobadilla believes there is a need for more hands-on activities outside of the classroom.

“Having kids come out and experience these lessons is a very unique and special opportunity. I saw these kids break out of their comfort zones and engage with many new scientific instruments during the activities,” Bobadilla says.

SRS education outreach plans to continue STEP field trips to showcase the many careers at the Site, spark interest in STEM and connect with local schools in the Central Savannah River Area.

If you are interested in a field trip opportunity, email the STEP team.