Falls Lake Partners

JoAnn M. Burkholder PhD
Director of the Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology
North Carolina State University
Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology
North Carolina State University
620 Hutton Street, Suite 104
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone:  919-515-2726

Project Title:  Falls Lake Partners in Forensic Science

Falls Lake Partners in Forensic Science is a three-year project designed to engage 8th grade/rising 9th grade students of Wake County, NC in STEM and Information Technology content and career education, through hands-on learning experiences in "forensic" investigative aquatic science. Water quality + human health links are the main science focus throughout the project. Falls Lake is among the most important drinking source waters in NC, yet much of the lake is officially designated as impaired by pollution. This project partners eighth grade students who depend upon Falls Lake for their drinking water, their teachers, and NC State University (Dr. Aaron Clark, STEM Department) and the Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology (CAAE). The overall goals are to encourage underprivileged minority, female, and special needs American youth to appreciate the direct connections between water quality, healthy aquatic life and healthy people; and to inspire students to pursue STEM careers in aquatic science and water resource management. Specific project objectives are to: 1) Kindle students' interest in aquatic science through short, interactive presentations to all 565 8th graders per year followed by brief classroom visits, emphasizing the importance of Falls Lake to their everyday health and the health of their families and friends; 2) Excite students and their teachers about aquatic science by providing hands-on experiences which teach them the science in issues affecting lake water quality; 3) Inspire students to pursue STEM careers in aquatic science and water resources management through direct interactions with aquatic specialists; and 4) Provide related classroom activities, career information, and references to enhance teachers' skills in teaching aquatic science. Objective 2 will include a one-day Tour de Lake for up to 300 interested students (30 per day), and advanced Falls Lake Forensics summer sessions (week-long, up to 15 students per session, two sessions per summer), and four Saturday sessions during the academic year including final presentations of student projects. All activities involved in addressing these objectives will be correlated to appropriate Goals of the NC Essential Science Standards.