Four Reading students spent a weekend in New Jersey with Berks Nature last month, presenting their environmental science project as part of GLOBE’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (U.S.) Regional Student Research Symposium.
GLOBE, or the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program, connects students and teachers to an international network to learn more about our shared environment. Through GLOBE, students and the public have the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.
Berks Nature is the main northeast and Mid-Atlantic regional partner for NASA’s GLOBE program, spearheading the program in a region that runs from Virginia up through Maine.
The 7th graders trip to the symposium was sponsored by Berks Nature and funded through a grant from GLOBE. For their project, the students- led by Northeast Regional Middle School science teacher Dave Renninger- tested soil in Angelica Creek Park’s wetlands, which they then compared to the soil at Reading’s Northeast Middle School.
“The idea was to take a comparison of soil temperature and quality, to see if there was any differences in wildlife or anything,” said Renninger, who accompanied the students to the symposium, along with Berks Nature Education and Watershed Specialist Michael Griffith. “We found that because the soil temperatures are much warmer here in the city, there are less insects and activity because of the dryness. Even though we have heavy rains here, there’s still that lack of a lot of shade and less rich soil.”
“This area here was more ants and some worms,” Renninger added. “But over at Angelica, they found salamanders, snakes and things like that.”
Renninger, a Berks Nature Ambassador and co-leader of Berks Nature’s Eco-Camp, praised his students for their work on the project.
“These kids have worked extra long hours, after school and on weekends,” he said. “It’s a great honor, because a lot of the city kids don’t get a chance to get out and experience this level of commitment and the level of challenge and competition. It’s not about who wins or loses, but that these kids feel very good about what they created, and that they’re proud.”
“This is a time we can shine as a city school,” Renninger added. “It’s another feather in the cap.”