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High School Students Investigate the Health of the Grand River Watershed with the GRPM


March 29, 2024

Students present a powerpoint to other students and teachers

Each school year at Grand Rapids Public Museum High School, 9th-grade students gear up for The Neighborhood Project, a place-based, interdisciplinary research project focused on challenges facing downtown Grand Rapids. Choosing either a social or environmental issue, students look at existing research, interview Grand Rapidians, conduct field studies and connect with community partners and experts to get a better understanding of their city.

This year, Ashleigh, Avery, Bryn, Erik, Grayson, Mikayla, and Vaida turned their attention to the health of the Grand River Watershed in the past, present, and future.

These students conducted hands-on research into the water quality, getting right down to the waterline to test Nitrate levels. They interviewed experts at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW), and attendees at the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum meeting hosted at John Ball Zoo. They also had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Stephanie Ogren, Vice President of Science and Education at the GRPM, to learn from relevant exhibits and research initiatives at the Museum.

Dr. Stephanie Ogren stands next to the Sturgeon tank at the GRPM and speaks

The group of students concluded that significant progress has been made to improve the health of the Grand River and that many organizations and initiatives are moving Grand Rapids towards further sustainability and reduced pollution.

A group of students rides the city bus

When they had completed their work, students reached out to the GRPM to see if we would support their learning by sharing their research findings with a larger audience. We were very impressed at the depth of their learning and the variety of research techniques they used to address their issue. Of course, we were delighted to share.

The GRPM is proud to ignite students’ curiosity about their local waterways and water conservation. We are currently in the process of an Expansion Project that will allow additional access to the Grand River, enabling us to provide even more educational opportunities to visiting and local students just outside our doors. This project is an excellent example of how powerful firsthand encounters with our natural world can be to encourage engaged learning. 

Check out the video Ashleigh, Avery, Bryn, Erik, Grayson, Mikayla, and Vaida created together:

You can also see their group presentation here: 

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Closure Notice.

The Museum will be closed on Sunday, March 31 for the Easter Holiday. 

Carousel Update.

The Spillman Carousel is currently closed while we are undergoing riverfront construction. The Carousel will re-open Spring of 2025.

Carousel Update

The 1928 Spillman Carousel is closed while we undergo riverfront construction. The carousel will re-open in the Spring of 2025.