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E2 River Scientist Study

School: The Common School

City/State: Amherst, MA

Grade(s): 5, 6

Format(s): Interview(s)

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology

Project Overview

This book was created by fifth and sixth grade students at The Common School in Amherst, Massachusetts. As part of study of the local watershed, students interviewed and worked with local scientists who were involved with studying and promoting the health of local rivers, streams and wetlands.

The interview project and book was part of a longer investigation that included case study research and service work at the local Fort River.  Students were involved in water testing and cleanup at the river, and studied and monitored the river in fall and spring seasons.

Scientists interviewed for the book included those who worked primarily or exclusively with watershed studies, and scientists – such as a herpetologist and naturalist/educator – whose work intersected with river ecology. In some cases, students were able to engage in work alongside the scientists, collecting data in the field.

The published book was provided to students, scientists and available to the community, and was celebrated at an outdoor spring river festival at which students shared their research with the public. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Connects school studies with real-life work.
  • A product with an authentic audience – the people interviewed all received copies of the book. This creates a layer of accountability.
  • An engaging way of studying science – through both interviews and fieldwork with local scientists.

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and information clearly.
  • I can accurately use 5th grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas.
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
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