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posted: 7/19/2012 5:19 PM

Science students to display work at symposium

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Students from Community Unit District 300 will showcase results from their research at Schweitzer Woods Forest Preserve during the first "STEM Research in Science," symposium from 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at H.D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin.

The three-week summer course provided eight middle school and high school students with hands-on experiences in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, which collectively are known as STEM courses.

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"This is a chance for students to show off the research and work they did at Schweitzer Woods Forest Preserve," said Matthew McKenney, a physical sciences and physics teacher at Jacobs High School who is teaching the summer course. "It is going to be like a science fair where students will display their work on poster boards and talk about their results."

During the summer session, students spent three days testing and collecting water and soil samples from the West Dundee forest preserve. Groups of students analyzed water samples for the presence of bacteria, while other groups studied the wetlands and prairie areas. Students worked with equipment such as sensors and temperature probes provided by the District 300 Foundation for Educational Excellence.

Evan Lamblin and lab partner Dale Snow chose to study the creek for materials and bacteria found in the water.

"The creek seemed more interesting than plants," said Evan, 13, who will be a entering Jacobs as a freshman in the fall. "Plus, we were in the water and it was preferably cooler."

Caitlin O'Callaghan and her group -- the Wetland Ponies -- surveyed the plants around the wetland area of the forest preserve.

"The plants near the wetlands are so different from regular ones, and it is interesting to see how they are affected by the drought," Caitlin said. "They are used to getting a lot of water but with the drought they are not been getting a lot. A lot of the plants are dead or dying."

The experiments gave John Jung a new appreciation for the impact humans, animals and machines have on the Earth.

"I hope people will be able to consider nature first before what we want," said Jung, a junior at Hampshire High School. "Although soil may be simple, almost everything starts as soil. Soil gives life and supports life. Even small things matter a lot."

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