As always Environmental Adventures ended another season with a barrage of interesting questions and unique experiences for the students of Austin College and Career Academy.

By popular request, the team brought back “Cut What You Want Week!” Of course, we kept our old standbys of rats and pigs due to their anatomical similarity to humans. When one freshman student asked for a shark most of the crew initially asked “Why?”; however, he delivered the perfect Project Exploration response: “Why not”? Because Environmental Adventures is a place where we encourage reaching beyond our comfort zones, students got a chance to get hands on experience and learn fish anatomy including gills, fin types, lateral lines, and muscles.

Students also had a chance to visit the massive behind the scenes collection at the Field Museum in Chicago. Researcher Terry Demos was kind enough to take the team into the basement and attic of the Field Museum to see just a handful of the hundreds of millions of specimens they have prepared. Students also learned about the process of researching these fossils including cleaning in the flesh eating beetle room, measurement, DNA extraction, and Polymerase chain reaction. Afterwords, students toured the Evolving Planet and Underground Adventure exhibits before viewing exhibits on Native American and ancient Chinese culture.

The team also participated in the STEAM conference at Northeastern Illinois University where they got a chance to picture themselves on a college campus. The STEAM conference focused on allowing high school teens to present their science to other students. Having spent so much time on the life sciences the EA team learned how to build air pressure rockets and underwater robots.

To close out the school year, students held a reflection of knowledge where they invited friends, family, and school staff to our program where the teens prepared games, live dissections, posters, pictures, and presented our small vegetable garden. It gave the students a chance to show not only what they learned, but how they learned and why hands on activities are important for teens! 

As another successful year closes, we thank our teens for their participation and congratulate them on a job well done. We also congratulate our graduating seniors and wish them luck on their next steps. We know you will carry your memories and experiences from EA with you! See you in the summer!

Written By: Kyle Reid

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