Siuslaw Stewards of the Sand

By Jim Grano

Siuslaw students present their Stewards of the Sand project at the Oregon Youth Summit

Siuslaw students present their Stewards of the Sand project to Dr. Jane Goodall and others at the Oregon Youth Summit

On Thursday October 15th, ten students from Siuslaw Elementary and Middle School in Florence attended the Oregon Youth Summit in Portland. The students are veterans of the Oregon Dunes Stewardship Project that has been carried on by all Siuslaw 4th grade classes since 2011, and they were looking forward to sharing details of their recent invasive species removal efforts with others.

The Oregon Youth Summit featured a mix of 30 elementary, middle, and high schools from around the state.  Dr. Jane Goodall gave the keynote address to 400+ students, teachers and parents in which she talked about her life, career, and shared a hopeful message for a peaceful future.

The goal of the Summit was to have an opportunity for all students to share what they’ve done, and to inspire each other to even greater work in the future.  Each school displayed its environmental research and/or stewardship project on a 3’ X 6’ table.

The school teams briefly presented their projects to  Dr. Jane Goodall. Siuslaw’s spokesperson was Brady Bauer. The team had previewed the project for their local school board on the evening before the Summit.  Read the presentation.  Brady concluded the presentation with the following poem.  Dr. Goodall commented that she knew the poem, and that it is a favorite:

Star Fish Poem


Stewards of the Sand exhibit

The event also featured mini-workshops and a scavenger hunt involving all of the displays.  “I particularly enjoyed creating balls of dirt, clay, compost and assorted wildflower seeds,” said Owen Harklerode, after attending one of the mini-sessions.  “It involved getting my hands dirty.”

In preparation for the Summit, Siuslaw’s team met over 5 evenings and did much of the work at home. The students created a display on a board constructed from Scotch Broom sticks, and which featured a hand made broom, awards the project had received from Oregon Invasive Species Council and US Forest Service, and take-away informational brochures about invasive Scotch Broom.

Dr. Goodall at the exhibit

Dr. Goodall at the exhibit

Teacher Dennis King and volunteer Jim Grano guided the students.  “After a full day of work, Dennis and I should be exhausted after this extra planning and time … instead we are energized and inspired by the enthusiasm and creativity of these students and their parents!” Grano said.

Student Ava Glowacki summed up the experience as follows: “When I consider and reflect upon my experiences while participating in the Oregon Youth Summit, there are 3 things that stand out. First, meeting a highly inspirational person such as Dr. Goodall.  Second, listening to Dr. Goodall’s speech about how she started out and how it became her passion. And finally, being able to see all of the other schools’ projects that showed what they did to make a difference in our environment.”

This opportunity was sponsored by the Diack Foundation, which also provided a $250 assist to each school for transportation and substitute teachers, and from the Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School (JGEMS).

Jim Grano was a teacher in Mapleton and Siuslaw School Districts for 33 years before he retired in 2007.  Today, he is a busy volunteer in the Siuslaw, Reedport and Mapleton school districts, coordinating more than 40 grant-funded project-based field experiences for students.  He is also an active liaison for the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.

Coos Bay Teacher Receives STEM Award

Krissie Presented with STEM Champion Award

October 14, 2015

Nick KrissieBRANSON, Mo. – Nicholas Krissie of Sunset Middle School in Coos Bay, Oregon was awarded the STEM Champion Award during the International STEM Education Association’s STEM Expo in Branson, Mo. on October 13, 2015. The STEM Champion Awards program honors public and private elementary, middle and high school teachers and teacher educators who have served as champions for integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in their schools and communities.

Nicholas created a one string guitar class during his first year of teaching. In the class, students learned math through the measurements required to build an instrument. They learned energy transfer as they studied how instruments worked. They learned engineering design, history, research methods, wood working, perseverance, and many 21st century skills as they built their instruments. One of the most important lessons they learned was that math, science, and other school subjects can be applied in real life. Upon realizing the success of Nick’s instrument program, the Coos Art Museum and the Coos Bay Community Education Foundation provided grant funding to extend the instrument program to include the entire fifth grade. The implementing the one string guitar class and creating integrated STEM curriculum lead to Nick being asked to serve as a STEM mentor teacher for the school district. Nick continues to grow as an educator, and he has been asked from organizations world-wide about how to implement a guitar program. We commend Nick for demonstrating to students how what they learn in school can be translated into real-world skills.

The STEM Champion Awards serve as a standard of excellence for individuals who promote integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The International STEM Education Association (ISEA) seeks out individuals who have implemented STEM programs, provided professional development, encouraged others and have been instrumental in supporting integrated STEM education.

The STEM Champion Awards are presented annually at the ISEA STEM Expo Conference.

Related Story:  Coos Bay Teacher Wins STEM AwardThe World, September 18, 2015