Our Youth Education Experience with East Pennsboro Summer Camp!

On June 12, the ALLARM summer team hosted our first youth education event of the summer with the East Pennsboro Summer Camp. Using science as a tool to understand the health of our local streams, we taught children, ranging from 5-12 years old, about the relationship between macroinvertebrates and water quality through various activities.

In this event, the ALLARM full-time staff and student watershed coordinators collaborated to lead 3 stations which included engaging with a watershed model, macroinvertebrate habitats, and macroinvertebrate identification. In the first station, the students had the opportunity to learn about the connection between land use and water quality through our interactive watershed model.  In the second station, our campers learned about macroinvertebrate habitats through implementing a macro dance focusing on different feeding types (like shredders, grazers, predators, etc. -which was extremely fun!) and looking at habitats present at the park with stream viewers. For their last station, our young scientists took part in a macroinvertebrate ID process. Through this activity, they got to investigate the characteristics of macroinvertebrates to further understand how they have adapted to the habitats they live in. At the end of this station, crayfish was voted to be our future scientists’ number-one favorite macroinvertebrate (with snails and water-penny beetles as distant seconds)!

According to Kailey Sipe ’25, “from this event, I gained deeper insights into the empowering effects of environmental youth education and its direct impact on young people. It was prevalent to me that all the campers were fully engaged with and immersed themselves in our activities. I could see that this hands-on experience sparked their curiosity of macroinvertebrates and water quality.” This event was a fun experience for the ALLARM team as we found ways to explain familiar concepts to a new and younger audience. By introducing important environmental concepts such as the interconnectedness of watersheds and the importance of macroinvertebrates to campers, we also get to reinforce our knowledge about what we do and remind ourselves that the learning process should never end.

As ALLARM team wrapped up the event, it was amazing and inspiring to see how deeply engaged these young scientists were and we look forward to seeing how they would make a positive impact on the environment now and in the future!