SPRING BREAK WHOOOOO!… Ok now that that is over, welcome back to Environmental Adventures at Austin College and Career Academy!

Students returned renewed and refreshed from their spring break, casting off their winter coats and enjoying the weather. April started with a trip around the school building. Students searched high in the trees, low in the dirt and everywhere in between for species as we participated in the INaturalist City Nature Challenge for 2017.

Students represented Chicago as we showed off some of the interesting plants and animals found in our city. “Wow all these trees are different” said one student “I thought trees were just trees but the leaves are all different”. A number of worms, squirrels and birds were found as well. Students also learned what made the leaves, flowers, and seeds different as we dissected a number of beans and flowers to see the different plant organs and learn what they do. After learning about pollination, it was clear to a few students what was “REALLY” causing their allergies.

Later in the month, our program had a visit from entrepreneur and environmental activist Bryant Williams. Mr. Williams discussed the threats to our community including the Lake Michigan oil spill that happened on April 12th. Students performed an activity in which they used common house hold items to develop methods to remove oil from water without damaging the water supply. Mr. Williams and instructor Kyle Reid also worked with the students on career paths and entrepreneurship through the lens of a minority and as a scientist. Although the future of funding and science is unclear, new problems always require new solutions. To cap of the month, students upcycled (reused an old item for something new) plastic bottles and spoons in order to create easy self-refilling bird feeders. Students personalized their bird feeder and are already reporting sightings of new neighborhood birds they would have otherwise never known about.

Written By: Kyle Reid

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