Baylor Educational Program Wins Award

May 20, 2010

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Marsh Madness, a joint program between the City of Waco and Baylor University's Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research (CRASR), recently received the Environmental Education Award from the State of Texas.

The program, which was started in 2007, was implemented to help improve student's science TAKS scores at Waco and La Vega Independent School Districts. It also encourages students to pursue careers in science.

Led by Dr. Robert Doyle, professor and chair of Baylor's biology department and director of CRASR, and Melissa Mullins, a Baylor biology doctoral student, the program is a part of the Gear Up (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant the City of Waco received in order to better prepare students for college through various educational programs and activities.

Students who participate in the Marsh Madness program take instructional field trips to the Lake Waco Wetlands where Doyle and Mullins apply previously taught classroom lectures to an actual site. Doyle and Mullins teach follow-up lessons after the trip.

"The students do all hands on science activities," Mullins said. "We want them to see that scientists are not just men in white coats in a laboratory, but that science is something real."

Activities at the wetlands include wetland CSI investigations, identifying wetland wildlife using keys and observing wetland life caught with nets.

"We are trying to generate interest in science outside the classroom," Mullins said. "We also require them to present their findings for the day to the rest of the group, which helps with public speaking."

The State of Texas received more than 280 nominations for the award, and Marsh Madness was one of only nine programs selected.

"The program had been nominated before, but I really think it is the coming together of two entities that helped get the award," Mullins said.

More information about Gear Up and Marsh Madness can be found at the Gear Up Waco website: http://www.baylor.edu/thinkcollege/

by Diamond Richardson, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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