JENISON, Mich. -- Maplewood lake in Georgetown Township has been closed for swimming since 2009, but with the help of a 6th grade class it sounds like the future is looking bright for swimming in the lake again.
Last year, Pinewood 6th grade teacher Lori Barr went to the township to ask if there was a problem her class could try and solve. Barr was told to have the students look into the problems surrounding the pollution in Maplewood lake and nearby Woodcrest park.
Since then, Barr's class has been busy, studying the area, identifying invasive species and other dangers. Pinewood 6th graders Conner Goeman & Carter Smit explain, “We’ve been there testing the water. We’ve measured it and looked for macro-vertebrates, which are like little parasites and bugs."
They found concerning pollutants and dangerous bacteria like E. Coli in the Maplewood runoff pond located at Woodcrest park. So the kids researched solutions to clean it up, students Conner Goeman & Carter Smit tell FOX 17 “We developed the idea of the wall of plants which creates a buffer zone to keep the road salt and all bad chemicals out.”
Their work didn't stop there. After talking to park goers they learned that mosquitoes made the area so miserable that people avoid it during the summer, so students Riley Jacobs & Cayden Andringa found a solution for that.
“Airators can do many things, like reduce mosquito populations and bat boxes will bring bats in to eat the mosquitos at the park now."
The kids gathered all their ideas, including the airators and bat boxes and presented them to the Georgetown Township board.
Telling FOX 17 about the meeting, students Elena Romero & Adrianna Bienick said, “It was kind of scary to go up in front of them, but I think we did a good job."
With a deep breath and the help of detailed Powerpoints, the student made quite the impression on board members like clerk Rich VanderKlok, “One of the things that really impressed about the kids was the fact that they did a great deal of research."
The kids even taught the board a new thing or two.
“One thing that they shared with us that I never heard of was a concept called natural playgrounds," explains VanderKlok.
Students Abigail Zuidema & Madison Damelio told FOX 17 what a natural playground is.
“A natural playground is basically a playground where instead of plastic they use wood or other natural materials."
The students are pushing for a new playground at Woodcrest. Students Jacob Braates & Robbie Ploge say, “Woodcrest only has a firetruck which I’ve played on and it’s really really boring after the first five minutes. The reason we want a natural playground is to get kids more active.”
Thanks to the kids' hard work, the township has already approved bat boxes for the park and they are adding some of the suggestions to their 2017 goals.