Feb. 15, 2023 – With soy sauce as oil, and oatmeal as fertilizer, students at Mayport Middle Coastal Sciences Academy had an opportunity to see up-close how pollutants affect the St. John’s River.
They were using a unique, 3-D tool known as an Enviroscape, which demonstrates how everyday human behavior impacts bodies of water.
This Enviroscape is one of three generously donated to the district by the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) through their Connected partnership with Jacksonville University.
“This not only teaches students about our ecosystems, but it also gives them first-hand, real-world knowledge of the St. John’s River,” said Dr. Yvonne Spinner, director of the district’s science department.
Spinner said these Enviroscapes will be available for students at Mayport Middle and throughout the district so students can have access to hands-on, engaging lessons on the St. Johns river.
This helps the students take ownership of their learning, said Dr. Melinda Simmons, an associate professor at Jacksonville University, who provided a special demonstration of the Enviroscape to Mayport Middle students and staff on Tuesday.
Especially because the model looks a lot like Jacksonville with its ports, agriculture, industries, gas stations, and homes with septic tanks, said Simmons.
“(Students can) think about where they’ve seen pollutants enter the environment in their own backyards and think about things they can do to make it better,” said Simmons. “It gives them a proactive stance.”
This is true for sixth grade student Ashley Vandeloo, who said it was interesting to see up close how pollutants enter the environment.
“I thought it was pretty cool to see how the trash that was on the ground, how that pollution can get into the water,” said Vandeloo. “It gives you a good vision of what really happens. It’s important to keep the water clean.”