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First grade teacher, Mr. Bailey, has had an indoor bee hive for the past four years at Washington STEM Academy. The introduction of the hive was awarded through the Red Apple Grant with the Warsaw Education Foundation. Mr. Bailey has used the bees as a study focus for teaching life cycles and the life sciences with his first graders. Students have learned so much about the bees by studying them closely in ways that otherwise would not be possible. We get a close up view to how they communicate with all their different jobs, make food for the colony, protect the hive, care for the queen as she lays eggs, and even do dances!

The most recent development this past spring and summer has been the planting of pollinator gardens with the new landscaping around Washington. On the south end of the building, in the front, is a wildflower garden that has been seeded and will be flowering in the next couple of years. In addition, we have pollinator gardens planted on the east and north sides of the building. All of these gardens came from Mr. Bailey's first graders who asked some really good questions. You see, a year or so ago, our entire hive of bees suddenly died one weekend. We were curious as to what happened and students came up with some theories about the cause of the harm to the bees. One of those theories was the chemical spraying that goes on in fields and areas where bees will often gather pollen to bring back to the hive. Students in Mr. Bailey's class started asking, what if we provide food for the bees ourselves? Can we plant gardens for the bees to gather food from that is safe for them and close to their hive? And so the idea of pollinator gardens around Washington was born.

Washington has partnered with Scott Fetters, from the Indiana Fish and Wildlife Service, to aid in providing wildflower seeds for this project. Joel Wihebrink from Wihebrink Landscaping Management has generously donated time and resources to install the plants and seeds for these gardens. Mr. Bailey's students have also assisted in the planting of these gardens around the school. This project is no small task and Washington has been greatly blessed by the community partnerships that have come alongside this effort!

Throughout our time of caring for the bees we have had experts in the field lead and guide us. Jeremy Corson, husband of Mrs. Corson, has donated time and resources to tend to the many needs of the hive. He has helped us expand our hives as we have seen our one hive grow so large that it needed to be split for another hive. Now as you pass on the north side of Washington you will see a couple of outdoor bee hives flourishing. Jim LeMasters, from Warsaw Community Schools, has contributed time and knowledge to ensuring our beehive is successful. Jeremy and Jim have been a powerful duo in setting our hives up well. 

Finally, completed just this past week is a new educational display on the outside entrance to Mr. Bailey's beehive. Mr. Bailey worked with his students and with Brad Robert from Robert Signs to create a long-lasting wrap to educate students, families, and the community about bees and all of their fascinating jobs, facts, and benefits. There is a plexiglass cut-out in the front of the display so that everyone can safely see the bees entering and exiting the hive. We would invite everyone to come and see the bee exhibit on the north east side of Washington and learn more about the incredible lives of bees!


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Washington STEM Academy is proud to announce another extremely successful Caterpillar Challenge this year! Students from kindergarten through 6th grade were challenged by Mr. Wall's class to collect caterpillars as part of their study of the insect life cycle. The "money" caterpillars were monarchs and they were worth two points while all other caterpillars were worth one point. This year we saw a great variety of different caterpillars and an abundance of monarchs than we saw the previous year! 

Students in Mr. Wall's 2nd grade have been studying the life cycle of the monarch as they carefully investigated monarch eggs all the way to now as we are releasing new monarch butterflies. As of today, we have released 17 monarch butterflies back into our community and we fully expect our number to triple before the end of September! Mr. Wall's students have done the heavy lifting by daily collecting caterpillars from each classroom and tallying the totals for record keeping. Their reward then has been to be the ones to release the butterflies back into the wild!

Thank you to all the students and families in kindergarten through 6thgrade that participated this year in this challenge! A special thank you to Mr. Wall and his leadership in championing this school-wide challenge, we are blessed to have Mr. Wall back at Washington again this year!

Top 3 Classes (by points):
1. Ms. White's class (5th grade) = 230 points
2. Mrs. Corson's class (kindergarten) = 100 points
3. Mr. Bailey's class (1st grade) = 40 points

*The winning class will be gifted a pizza party coming up this month! More information to come soon.

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4th grade students in Mr. Hawblitzel's 4th grade have started the year learning about the scientific process through the introduction of using Lego EV3 robots. Students engineered a basic robot that gave them opportunties to work well with others. After the bots were built, students then learned about the modes and parameters used to program their individual bots. We investigated driving the robot forward to a predetermined distance using the scientific process and gathering data through trials and observations. Finally, from setting a foundation of the basic programming movements, students accomplished a challenge to drive around a four square foot box. This learning will build for the years to come in 5th & 6th grade!

Photo Cred: Mr. Hawblitzel

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Students in both 5th & 6th grade were treated to a demonstration of the micro surfacing that is taking place all along many of our city streets in Warsaw. Pavement Solutions have been contracted to complete the job in collaboration with the city street department. The science that goes into balancing the aggregate, cement, and water mixture is an incredible lesson in chemistry. Our students were able to participate in the demonstration themselves as they made the mixture in our "laboratory". We then had the opportunity to see the heavy machinery in action with some spots on Kincaide St. Thank you again to all those involved with providing such an enriching experience with something we often drive by and do not give much thought to!


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PRESS RELEASE on InkFreeNews 

TENTH SUCCESSFUL GRASSY CREEK RAFTING TRIP

KOSCIUSKO — Students from Washington STEM Academy and Tippecanoe Valley High School traded their books and pencils for life vests and paddles to venture through Grassy Creek as part of the tenth annual student rafting program.   

The program, which is made possible by the Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District, The Watershed Foundation, Washington STEM Academy and Tippecanoe Valley HS, aims to educate students about their watershed, and foster a relationship between them and nature. Many of the students had never been on a boat, and hardly any had ever been through a wetland like Grassy Creek.

“The Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District is pleased to be able to offer this type of event to our county.  It is collaboration at its best, involving many local entities and volunteers, working towards common goals,” commented SWCD Program Administrator Darci Zolman.  “I can’t think of a more unique way to learn about the land-water connection, stewardship, and working together as a team.  We are very pleased with this outreach and its impacts.” 

Each raft holds up to ten students and education volunteers from various organizations, including the Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams. Together, the teams make their way down the creek with teamwork and collaboration. During the trip the students conduct experiments to determine the creek’s phosphorus concentration, dissolved oxygen and temperature. Combined, these three indicators tell a story about the health of the water. Conservation Officers from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources follow the rafts on the journey to ensure safety on the creek.

The trips ended each day at Pie-Eyed Petey’s Marina, where pontoon boats captained by Lake Tippecanoe Property Owner’s Association members met them. On the ride over to YMCA Camp Crosley Teen Village on Little Tippy, the students also took a Secchi Disk reading to better understand water clarity and sedimentation.

After lunch the day culminated with a watershed activity that demonstrated how small pollutants on land had the potential for impacting water quality. The students built their own community on a tarp and watched as the water picked up pollutants on the land and collected in dirty puddles. Students also learned the importance of resource management and partnership through various activities presented by environmental educator Rick Glassman.

As the student’s day ended, each should have left knowing that they live on a very fragile watershed.  It is their responsibility to make Clear Choices for Clean Water in their community, for themselves and future generations. Simple actions such as picking up pet poo and planting native plants in their yards were demonstrated as examples of small choices that have a big impact. For more information about how you can be a good water steward, visit www.Indiana.ClearChoicesCleanWater.org.

“Opportunities such as this rafting trip provide meaningful moments for students to engage with our local lakes and streams. Our goal is to make deep connections so that we can recognize the human impact and monitor trends over time,” said David Burden Washington STEM Coach. “Students are the future stewards and conservationist that will be responsible for the health of our community. We see tremendous value in participating with the Soil and Water Conservation District to learn alongside experts in the field.”

Many Volunteers have given their time and expertise to make these trips possible. Special recognition should be given to SWCD Supervisors Jon Roberts and Stan Moore and volunteers Sherman Bryant and Sam St.Clair for their continued leadership and making sure the rafts are ready for use each morning and put away after each trip. For more information on raft opportunities, contact the Kosciusko County SWCD at (574) 267-7445 x3 or darci.zolman@in.nacdnet.net.

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