Grayling community organizations fund science field trips for fifth grade students
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Due to their move to the Grayling Middle School, fifth graders are no longer involved with the Extended Learning Year program, but two community organizations teamed with teachers to provide new learning opportunities for the students.
The Grayling Youth Booster Club and the Grayling Rotary Club each awarded $1,000 grants to send 34 fifth graders on science field trips.
First, fifth grade teachers Kristy Raymond and Gloria Partlo took the students to the Inland Seas Education Association based in Suttons Bay. The non-profit organization’s mission is to inspire Great Lakes curiosity, stewardship, and passion.
The students gathered water samples while aboard the organization’s sailboat.
“They collected real scientific data, studying the health of Lake Michigan,” Raymond said.
The students also learned how to operate the sailboat and each one got the chance to steer the vessel.
“They were all hands on and engaged the whole time,” Partlo said.
Next, near the end of the Extended Learning Year, the students visited STARBASE Alpena over the course of five days. The organization is federally funded by the Department of Defense and features museums and science centers. The program encourages the students to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM.
During the classes the students learned Creo, which is designing something for 3-5 printing, went rock wall climbing, launched rockets, went Geocaching, did some robotics work, and worked on using the metric system.
“They had an engaging hands on experience learning about science in the real world,” Raymond said.
The students took the bus back and forth from STARBASE Alpena each day.
“We were exhausted, but it was worth it,” Partlo said.
Teamwork was emphasized on both trips.
“They had to work on things together on the science ship and on STARBASE, which are essential life skills,” Partlo said.
The teachers acknowledged the Grayling Youth Booster Club and Grayling Rotary Club for supporting the students.
“Without the support from those two groups, we would not have been able to go,” Partlo said.
Chelsea Partello of the Grayling Youth Booster Club said the group is composed of 14 volunteer board members who focus year-round on fundraising to give back to the youth of Crawford County.
“Working with the fifth grade class gave us an opportunity to connect with a large group of local youth, who likely haven’t all been positively affected by our efforts. We know the hard work that goes into planning and funding a trip such as this so there was little hesitation in approving the grant,” Partello said. “We are very grateful for the community that continues to support us in giving back to the kids. Without the annual memberships and event participation from the community, we would never be able to provide this type of financial assistance to our youth.”
Katie Olson, the immediate past president of the Grayling Rotary Club, said members appreciated being able to support youth in the community.
“The Grayling Rotary Club was happy to support the fifth graders’ trip to camp this June with a Good Works Grant,” she said. “Supporting the students and helping them broaden their horizons is a very meaningful project for us and we are grateful that we were able to help.”
The educators hope to take the students on the same trips for the upcoming school year.
Partlo is transitioning to serve as a sixth grade teacher, so those students would attend the session at the Inland Seas Education Association. There will be five classes of fifth graders for the school year rather than two. The teachers will have to figure out how to get those students to STARBASE Alpena over a number of weeks.
The teachers said they are excited and looking forward to making a smooth transition to the middle school.
“Change is exciting,” Partlo said.