Last month, Science Teacher Jennifer Bolla led her students through a week-long immersive science experiment called Algae Academy. Students leveraged a variety of skills, including measuring, hypothesizing, using a microscope, graphic design, and comparing data, to find the conditions in which algae grows best. The Algae Academy, which is funded by The Algae Foundation, sent Jennifer all the lab supplies to conduct the experiment and teach the curriculum, including the live algae! Some of our students remember the project from last year and were eager to do it again! They helped Jennifer engage the students who are new to the Algae Academy and make it a memorable project for everyone.
But why algae? According to The Algae Foundation, “Algae have the potential to be a solution to some of society’s biggest challenges. What can we use as renewable fuel? Algae. How will we feed a growing population? Algae.” The practical application of their science knowledge is paramount for Jennifer’s science classes. Algae can help clean up the environment and help to stop or decrease climate change.
During the experiment, students tested various conditions for the growth of algae, examined algae under a microscope to identify different species, and discussed the connection between algae and current scientific trends, like work towards more sustainable energy sources and worries about future protein shortages.
But students weren’t just practicing their STEM skills in the Algae Academy! Jennifer teamed up with Art Teacher Terry Neal to create cross-curricular opportunities, too. Students learned from Terry about how to design a logo for their algae farms. Their creativity was evident in their logos, as Terry taught them about the design process from sketching to using digital tools, and structure, color, and imagery in the logos.
The enthusiasm generated by the Algae Academy was amazing to see! Students who had participated in the project the previous year embraced the opportunity to dive into the experiment again, acting as mentors to the students who hadn’t done it before. Jennifer and Terry’s collaborative efforts not only made the project memorable but also sparked a genuine interest in biology among some students, with a few expressing aspirations to pursue it as a college major.
The Algae Academy pushed the boundaries of traditional science education, to include more of students’ interests, skills, and creativity. Jennifer says that’s always her goal here at EYC Academy. “The Algae Academy is a great way to show how learning and the real world are connected,” she added. The Algae Academy transformed a simple experiment into a holistic learning experience, showcasing the potential for collaboration between science and art to inspire the next generation of innovative thinkers. We are so proud of the students’ work!