We have had a busy spring at the Blue Swallow Farm Foundation. Here are some of the activities that we have been involved with and others that are coming up:

  • Conducted a research study on scientific observation skills, STEM career motivation, and well-being of fifth grade students in an outdoor classroom
  • Presented at the Association of Psychological Science (APS) conference in March on the impact of an innovative water quality monitoring program on STEM achievement, motivation, and environmental stewardship
  • Presented at the European Association for Research on Leaning and Instruction (EARLI) in August on the use of the GaiaXus probe during citizen science programs to foster metacognition and STEM career motivation

  • Supporting public and private schools in building outdoor classrooms
  • Presented at the mEducation Alliance conference

  • Received a donation from the Bank of Clarke

Changemaker Project

By Christina Shaner, Hood College

As a rising senior pursuing environmental science and coastal watershed studies, I have a great passion for learning about the natural world. This summer I am researching American lobster larvae at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine. I am closely working with my mentors, Drs. Eric Annis, and Doug Rasher. As the Gulf of Maine warms due to climate change, studying thermal tolerance of lobster larvae is essential to determine how the population distribution and abundance is shifting in response to the warming water, since larval settlement is highly temperature dependent. Almost all previous thermal tolerance studies on American lobster larvae have been done using lab-reared larvae. However, in recent studies, it has been suggested that lab-reared thermal tolerance data inaccurately represents larvae in the wild. The goal of my project is to determine differences in thermal tolerance between lab-reared and field-reared larvae using measures of oxygen consumption to better understand current and future impacts of climate change on the American lobster population.

Upon talking with Dr. Suzanne E. Hiller about the Blue Swallow Farm Foundation, I realized that this organization is a strong environmental change agent. As we talked about the many amazing learning opportunities the organization provides to children of all ages, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own experience in the public school system. I realized that I had very few opportunities for hands-on learning in grade school, and outdoor learning was almost nonexistent. I feel that experiences such as those would have benefited me as a young student. Allowing and encouraging children of all ages to get involved in hands-on STEM learning is invaluable as it provides a safe environment to make mistakes- and learn from them! Learning experiences such as these get children curious and excited about science, and it provides them with the tools to be environmentally conscious in their future, regardless of if they choose a career in STEM. As we continue to face new environmental problems, involving students of all ages in authentic and meaningful learning experiences is essential for the future of our planet. The unique and beneficial learning opportunities that Blue Swallow Farm Foundation makes possible for students of all ages and backgrounds is why I selected them as an environmental changemaker.