Clearing up muddy waters
Jason Project helps students make sense of science education
BY RONALD BLISS
Perhaps one of the students with mud under her fingernails, a pant leg covered with creek water and dirt on her knees said it best.
"I learned more in a few hours during a field trip than reading about science from a textbook in a classroom for a whole semester."
About 100 seventh graders from Coleman Middle School in Wichita, Kan., spent much of one day recently at Chisholm Creek Park in Wichita, getting wet in murky creek water, learning to spot poison ivy, checking core tree samples to learn the ages of trees, and studying living critters that call muddy creek banks home.
The students were taking part in a field trip as part of the Jason Project for Science Education, an innovative approach to learning about science and the environment. Boeing is a significant local sponsor for the Jason Project and a regional sponsor as well.
"The things that we are studying in class, we are coming out and seeing," said Randy Mousoey, Coleman Middle School teacher and leader of the field trip. "We are looking at watershed health … The whole concept is to come back year after year and keep collecting the same kind of data, and we can get an idea of what the health is of the Chisholm Creek watershed."
Jonathan Bradshaw, Education Relations specialist at Boeing Wichita, said the Jason Project concept is a way for classroom teachers to reinforce textbook material with real-world, hands-on activities that are fun and exciting. Jason is a 3,000-year-old Greek mythological hero who led a group of explorers called the Argonauts on a journey across the Black Sea in search of the Fleece of the Golden Ram.
"It may be a cliché, but we're investing in our future through education. We think education is the building block of strong communities and a good quality of life. We support math and science education because of that belief," Bradshaw said.
Mousoey said Boeing would receive payback in the future for its support.
"You may be getting some of these students in the workforce, and they will have learned by being involved in projects like this that there is more out of learning than reading from textbooks," he said. "They are also learning the importance of teamwork and how important that is in learning and working at a job."
The Jason Project for Science Education, in its 16th year, is a nationwide effort to motivate teachers and provide professional development for them in learning about the wonders of science using state-of-the-art technology. The concept was developed by Dr. Robert Ballard, an explorer who helped rediscover the RMS Titanic in 1986 and wanted to share his dream of exploration and discovery with students everywhere.
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