Project ¿QUÉ?

July 15, 2015 –

Project ¿QUÉ? is a multi-faceted John Carroll University initiative to raise the educational aspirations of middle school Hispanic children from Cleveland’s west side. Due to budget cuts, this will be the program’s final year.

Twenty-two eighth-graders and approximately twelve counselors, instructors, and volunteers participated this year. Volunteer Joe Malmisur admitted to some trepidation when he agreed to design and conduct the program. As a former high school principal, he knew full well that all middle school teachers will be going to heaven! But he rose to the challenge to make the day as interactive, stimulating, and unforgettable.

The overall concept for the day was that “everything in nature is connected.” What better way to demonstrate this than by learning about watersheds and macro invertebrates? The morning was to be several classroom exercises in preparation for playing in the stream at the Aurora Sanctuary.

Dr. Jenn Clark and students from Hiram College were to assist at the streamside, electro-shocking a section of the stream for the kids to gather the stunned fish in nets for identification (the fish would be fine) and using a micro net to look for macro invertebrates.

Joe scouted the area Tuesday morning and everything was falling into place. What he didn’t count on “falling“ was two-plus inches of rain. In a few short hours his plans were literally washed away. The morning seemed to go well with the kids engaged in several activities. They began to understand how everything was connected and were eager to get into the stream. But it was obvious that it was too dangerous for anybody to be in the stream.

Instead, Joe led everyone on a two and a half mile hike through the mud, muck and mire of the Aurora Sanctuary. Some kids learned about bald faced hornets on a personal basis, and one girl found out the hard way what stinging nettles are.

At the end of the hike everyone was wet, covered with mud, and laughing. All in all everyone had a great time, learned that everything in nature is connected, and made some memories that will last a lifetime.