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RRMS Students Ready for Stone Lab Trip

Next Wednesday morning (Oct. 10), a total of 60 Rocky River Middle School seventh graders and eight teachers and administrators will depart for a two-day, one-night trip to The Ohio State University’s Stone Lab for a hands-on science experience.

Stone Lab, a working facility for Ohio State student investigations, is a field laboratory located on Gibralter Island in the harbor of Put-in-Bay’s South Bass Harbor.

The Miller Boat Line Ferry takes the group to South Bass Island where a research vessel meets the group for the final leg of the trip to Gibralter Island.

“This is an opportunity for students to learn about a topic that they are interested in and do so in a field laboratory setting,” said Dave Opdycke, a science teacher at RRMS who also coordinates the Stone Lab trip. “Our goal is for the students to come back with a better understanding of the Lake Erie ecosystem.”

While at Stone Lab, the students will take a two-hour science cruise aboard the motor vessel, Bio Lab, during which a resident scientist demonstrates studies of water quality, plankton, benthos and fish using various sensors, samplers and trawls.Students will also take part in a two-hour laboratory session to examine and identify collected and preserved insect and fish specimens and take a scientist-led walk in search of invertebrates.

In order to be considered for the Stone Lab trip, students must submit a proposal with an idea for a project they would like to conduct. Proposals must be related to the Stone Lab environment, but do not have to necessarily be science-based.

“Most of the proposals we receive are science related,” Opdycke said. “But we don’t limit the proposals to just science. Students may be interested in astronomy, history or photography and can draft a proposal related to those topics based on the surroundings at Stone Lab.”

Some students work on their project while on the island, while others complete their projects upon returning home. All final projects are displayed on tri-boards and displayed at parent/teacher conferences in November as well as in the science classroom.

As has been the case with previous years, there were more proposals submitted than Stone Lab had room to accommodate. Opdycke and the other RRMS science teachers held a lottery drawing to determine the 60 students who would make the trip.

"In the past, we could only take 45 students due to the limited amount of sleeping space at Stone Lab,” Opdycke said. “But because of the recent high-demand, I reached out to Stone Lab and they have agreed to open an extra cottage that sleeps 15. That allows us to take 60 students.”

The Stone Lab trip has always been one of the most popular events of the year for RRMS students and this year appears to be no different.