Making Science Real 2004 was a cooperative venture between Cacapon Institute and Hardy County Schools with goal of helping rising 5th through 8th graders excel in science.  This program was funded through a grant from the WV Department of Education. This no-cost program began on June 28, ended on July 22, and was held at East Hardy Early and Middle Childhood School.

Week One

Overview: The first week of "Making Science Real" serves as an introduction to the world of science, the scientific method, scientific ethics, and the qualities of a scientist. The skills gained during the first week help guide the students in their own research projects conducted the following three weeks of camp.

Activities: Heading down to the riverThe first day started out by introducing the students to the scientific process. The steps were listed and briefly discussed to show the students how the day’s activities would progress. Once the scientific process was covered the week’s topic was introduced.

The students were presented with a "problem": a local landowner witnessed a fish kill on Baker Run and wanted to know why it happened. For this mock exercise the students were given the role of West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection staff scientists. This exercise gave the students a chance to discover the process of scientific inquiry, and experience the scientific method in action. Once they understood the problem the students discussed possible reasons for the fish kill. Throughout the week the students conducted experiments to determine whether or not a "possible cause" was the reason for the fish kill. Their experiments looked at dissolved oxygen, fish diseases, and chemical factors including pesticides. Each experiment showed the students how different aspect of water quality alone or in combination with other factors can affect the health of a stream.

The students ended the week with a trash clean up Baker Run behind the school.

Fish exploration Hub of Activity
The group makes plans. Checking fish for disease. Peter and his foam fish. Beehive of activity.
Cleaning up. Pulling tangled metal out of Baker Run
Cleaning up. Wrestling twisted metal out of Baker Run. Back to school. Lunchtime

Week Two

Overview: The topic of week two is Ecology. Students explore aspects of ecology along Baker Run behind East Hardy Early/Middle School. Week 2 gives the students an opportunity to put their new research skills to the test by developing and running their own experiment. The students have the entire week to research their proposed topic, develop research methods, conduct their experiment, analyze the data they collected, and present their conclusions to their fellow peers.


On day one the students were given a brief introduction to ecology including term such as niche, community, and population. Once the students were given an "ecological foundation," they went down to the Baker Run to explore and think about possible topics for a research project. When the students each had a few topics of interest they sat down and discussed them as a group. This discussion helped the students refine their project scope and hypotheses through a peer critiquing process. The students chose project topics covering stream bank vegetation, aquatic animals, and stream bank insect populations.

On day two through four the students researched their topics, carried out their data collection and presented their findings to the other students. Each presentation was followed with a peer review. These reviews where done to show the students how in the real world research methods and results are questioned, not only to determine if the conclusions are valid, but also to discover other ways in which a hypothesis can be tested.

They ended the week with a much-deserved swim in Baker Run

Research in the library. Jennings explains it all. What we did this week.

Week Three

Overview: The topic of the week is geology. The students complete one major research project during the week. They also explore different aspects of local and global geology through field trips, fossil hunting, and classroom presentations.

Activities: Since geology tends to involve more field observation than lab research, the students were given many opportunities to just explore their surroundings while learning about West Virginia geologic formations and fossils.

On day one the students discussed geology in terms of definitions and the laws of physics. The students also discussed the week’s research project, came up with a hypothesis, and discussed how geologic data is collected.

On day two the students reviewed the previous day’s material and took an in depth look at fossils. The fossils presented in class gave the students an idea of how animals and biological diversity have changed through time. They fossils also gave the children a glimpse at the types of animals that inhabited West Virginia millions of years ago.

On day three the students took a field trip to a near by highway road cut to collect their project data and to hunt for fossils. The data collection and fossil hunt was a success for all of the students. Back in the classroom the students analyzed their rock samples for their research and identified the fossils they found.

To end the week the students looked at mineral specimens from around the world and ended the day with a swim in Baker Run.

Week Four

Overview: Biological diversity was the topic for week four. A week long project was pre-designed for the students to explore biological diversity through insects. This project was complimented with short explorations of biology in Baker Run, along the banks of Baker Run and from around the world.

Activities: On day one the students received an introduction to biology including discussion of key terms and on what constitutes "life." The students then helped develop the week’s research project, which involved installing insect pitfall traps along Baker Run in four different habitats. Some of the traps were set with bait, such as honey or hot dogs, and others were left empty. The project was designed to explore whether or not vegetative diversity and food sources would affect the diversity of insects found along Baker Run.

The explorations of biology varied from day to day. On day one the students looked at the diversity of plants in their insect study area, which provided data for the week long research project. On day two a local insect expert put on a "bug show" for the students to further show biological diversity both in West Virginia and around the word. The show included both mounted insects and live hissing cockroaches from Madagascar. On day three the students explored the diversity of aquatic insects and fishes through the collection and identification of organisms in Baker Run.

On day two, three, and four the students collected the insects from their pitfall traps and recorded the data. On day four the groups presented their findings and completed a peer review process which involved an in-depth look at the diversity along Baker Run and a discussion on how the study could have been improved.

Jan does the annual bug show. An insect pitfall trap. Kickin up bugs.
Sorting the catch. Counting bugs from the pitfall traps. More counting bugs.




Cacapon Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.

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Frank Rodgers,  Executive Director

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