I was honored to present to two bustling classrooms of second graders at Jefferson Lighthouse School in the Racine Unified School District on June 5, 2019.
We watched Life in Our Lake (in case you haven't seen, Port Exploreum commissioned a newly subtitled version linked here), students held onto fuzz-ball Phytos and hair-clip Mussels to tangibly connect with what they were seeing on screen, and we enjoyed Q&As flush with youthful inquiry, curiosity, and sharing.
Many students have been fishing and shared memories connecting with their families while fishing, even if they didn't catch a lot of fish. We recited the names of our five Great Lakes. We talked about how mussels didn't come here because of "a bad man with a boat" and, as always, the students want to know what to do next or how we can help make a difference.
(I suggested that first they go out and experience their Lakes and enjoy/observe the world around them; that if they go fishing or boating they talk to their adults about DNR's "Just Drain It" protocol; that on land they can support native plant and animal communities through things like rain gardens; and that they share the story of invasive species so that adults making choices about Asian Carp and the St. Lawrence Seaway are thinking about how to prevent future unintended consequences.)
Several of them talked about recycling plastics. There is also always curiosity about how mussels make baby mussels. Several of the young girls, I interpret, appreciated seeing and hearing a female scientist (Abby DeBofsky) and a female voice (Grace DeWolff) telling the story in the film.
My site visit was tied in with their "Sharing the Planet - Ecosystems" unit and I thank my sister for connecting me with the school.
While I am not actively selling any new copies of the game (students always ask where they can buy it), I will mention two additional ways Milwaukee-area audiences can play it by sharing copies that we all created. A classroom can rent a Mussel Madness play session through me or the nonprofit Reflo through our Milwaukee Water Stories program, and I will come with the number of game boards appropriate to the class size.
Or, later this month, library card holders in Milwaukee County can check out one of two copies acquired by the Cudahy Family Library. Cudahy will be debuting a new board game collection end of June, and the library has added two copies of our game to the circulating collection. Games will be able to be checked out for seven days and can be picked up at any public library in Milwaukee County.
Thank you for your support and sharing what you can do about invasive species during Invasive Species Action Month.