Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

November 8, 2013

Battling nature's fury

Middle school students develop projects to help during floods

(Continued)

The Central students thought their second idea was much more viable.

They wanted to start an orchard using the land.

But their robotics project requires them to consult with experts, and a local expert told them an orchard likely wouldn’t survive in a floodplain.

They spoke with a Purdue University extension educator.

“We learned that fruit-bearing trees don’t like to get their feet wet,” Liesl said.

Too much water will expose the trees to disease.

Their next idea was more practical. They decided to plan an arboretum — a place filled with trees, shrubs and plants that people can visit like a park. It would also be a resource for area science teachers.

They researched trees that thrive in wet areas. They even took field trips out to survey the land.

Cree taught the team about drainage and floodplains.

For a month, the girls have been planning this and learning all they can about the subject, including how the city responds during floods.

Cree said it’s a powerful lesson for them. These middle school students know more about floods and how they impact Kokomo than most adults do.

“It’s valuable,” he said. “I wish they taught this in high school.”

While Cree talked to Jerzie and Liesl, another group of students from Maple Crest Middle School worked on their own robotics project.

They chose a disaster that was a little more foreign to them.

The kids on the team considered hurricanes the most devastating of natural disasters. And their project aims to help one of society’s most vulnerable populations survive one. The program they created would help homebound elderly people and their pets evacuate during a hurricane.

It’s called Evac Buddy.

It’s a program that would pair volunteers with elderly, homebound people, especially ones with pets.

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