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The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium 2022 Student Research Symposium Highlights

By Susan Stearns from the NWO Center of Excellence at Bowling Green State University

Regional in-person Student Research Symposia (SRS) were not held in 2022 due to the ongoing COVID pandemic; however, with support from NASA Grant no. 80NSSC18K0135 and Youth Learning As Citizen Environmental Scientists (YLACES), the GLOBE U.S. Coordination Office was able to support in-person local SRS where students shared the results of field investigations using GLOBE protocols or data. Learn more about all of the 2022 local SRS here.

In May, two Ohio Department of Education STEM designated intermediate schools in northwest Ohio participated in a first ever GLOBE Student Research Symposium at the Toledo Zoo. Hosted by Bowling Green State University, Xcite Learning, and the United States Coordination Office of the GLOBE Program in partnership with The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, the event was organized by Dr. Jodi Haney of BGSU and Xcite Learning and Mitch Magdich of the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium.

students and teachers at the Toledo Zoo student research symposium
On 23 May 2022, forty-seven students from two schools gathered at The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium in Toledo, Ohio, for the Student Research Symposium organized by Mitch Magdich of the Toledo Zoo and GLOBE Partner Jodi Haney. Twenty-eight fourth grade students from Hull Prairie Intermediate School in Perrysburg (led by teacher Amy Boros) and nineteen students from Dorr Elementary School in Toledo (led by teacher Kristy Disalle) researched projects on topics that included surface temperature, soil moisture, plant diversity, air temperature, and animal diversity in the context of their outdoor classroom “PRAIRIE”, installed at each school by the Toledo Zoo.

The day began with a keynote presentation from Jacob Schoen of the Toledo Zoo on “The Importance of School Prairies and Management Practices to Keep our Prairies Healthy.” Next, students presented thirteen research projects through poster sessions and received reviews from STEM professionals and peers.

students present their research at the Toledo Zoo student research symposium
Students then went to the zoo aquarium exhibit to explore “ideal environments” and were encouraged to learn and share how aquatic environments are ideal for the organisms that live there. Teachers asked their students to compare and contrast aquarium ecosystems with school prairies in terms of ideal environments and to research what makes each environment ideal for the animals and plants that live there.

Thanks to the reviewers: Jenna Pollock (BGSU); and Mitch Magdich, Jacob Schoen, Kelsey Moore, and Pamela Steider (The Toledo Zoo and Aquarium).

Project PRAIRIE (Prairies that Invigorate Inquiry Learning) extends the Wild Toledo prairie initiative into local classrooms by utilizing the native prairie installations as living labs. It is an inquiry-based education program that trains students and their teachers to use native prairie habitats for citizen science projects that contribute to a larger body of global research to make a difference in the natural world. Toledo Zoo conservation staff install native prairies on the property of participating schools while Zoo education staff train teachers and students to use the prairies for citizen science, inquiry learning projects, and follows up with related classroom programming. For more information on Toledo Zoo’s Wild Toledo PRAIRIE initiative:

Images (top to bottom): Students and teachers gather at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium SRS; students present their research to a reviewer.

Student Research Reports: U.S. Student Research Symposia (SRS)

News origin: United States of America