Posts Tagged With: Keith Piccard

Mark Your Calendars: Community Field Day is May 31

undefinedAllendale’s Third Annual Allendale Community Field Day offers both community beautification and learning experiences for a fun, action-packed family day on May 31.

Spearheaded by Allendale Middle School science teacher Keith Piccard and GVSU Professor Peter Riemersma, the day seeks to harness the “power of many volunteers” to build an outdoor learning space that can be utilized by APS teachers, the community and young scientists everywhere.

Believing that valuable educational opportunities await outside the traditional classroom, especially in the sciences, both Piccard and Riemersma excitedly await a morning of community interaction that will pave the way for that completed outdoor space. Once gardens are tended and water tested, their hope is that these outdoor learning spaces will be continually improved and promoted for more frequent use throughout the school year.

As for the day’s agenda, participating families will be invited to join in these events prior to gobbling up a free lunch:

  • Stream Flow Measurement Wiers and Duck Race: weirs will be constructed and installed in the Sevey Drain running through campus so that participants can measure water velocity. Using this information, along with the distance to the finish line, families will make duck race predictions before racing their own yellow duck.
  • Minnow Traps: Local boy scouts will be on hand to help participants create minnow traps and learn how to use them. Minnow traps play an important role in estimating local fish populations.
  • Project Budburst Garden maintenance: volunteers are invited to play a critical role in maintaining the garden work that was completed in the previous two Community Days. A key part of this venture will be simplifying and streamlining the tasks needed to maintain those areas.
  • Many other fun, educational activitieslike a nature scavenger hunt, walking tours of school gardens and previous projects, water evaluation under digital microscopes, looking at aquatic macroinvertebrates, and water conductivity and turbidity.

For information about how you can get involved, please contact Peter Riemersma ( or Keith Piccard (

Hope to see you Saturday morning, May 31!


Categories: Allendale Public Schools, Community News | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

You’re Invited to the 2nd Annual Allendale Community Field Day!

Allendale Community Field Day, Allendale Public SchoolsBirds and bats and butterflies — oh my!

The Second Annual Allendale Community Field Day is preparing to take flight, inviting community members to join in creating a diverse and healthy ecosystem on the Allendale Public School campus.

Grand Valley State University professor Peter Riemersma and Allendale Middle School Science teacher Keith Piccard have focused this year’s work on “Things That Fly,” and will spend this Saturday, May 18 doing three things:

  • constructing bird feeders
  • building bat houses
  • planting butterfly gardens

The two men have worked tirelessly to get a small team of community members to volunteer in ways that strengthen the program. They wish to thank:

  • Allendale Boy Scout Troop 39 for their help with bat house preparations; special thanks to Eagle Scout Alex Silas
  • GVSU Engineering Students for their work on new bird feeder designs
  • Dr. Amy Russell, GVSU Biology Bat Consultant
  • GVSU Illustration Student Kayla Traina for her lovely Flyer Design
  • Holli Ward, Butterfly Consultant
  • The Vruggink Family Garden and their help with plant germination intended to attract butterflies

Mr. Piccard and Professor Riemersma are passionate about getting students outside to better connect the science they learn in class and the real-life application of that knowledge. 

“My curriculum hasn’t changed,” said Mr. Piccard. “I’m still actively involved in stream ecology, and these projects will only help to further those interests as well. We just want to get more people involved in doing science and data collection outside. Everyone’s welcome! Students from other schools and even homeschooled kids are invited to take part in this community field day.”

Professor Riemersma agreed, noting that he has spent this entire school year on sabbatical to promote the goals of expanding science and connecting it to the world around us:

“We’re not just putting up a bat house or a bird house because it’s nice to look at — we want this to impact education. We’re working hard to create an infrastructure that will support those goals.”

Funding for this year’s Allendale Community Field Day come from Professor Riemersma’s personal grant monies, a $1,700 Allendale Community Foundation Grant, and PTA dollars.

If you would like to join the fun and build a bird house, bat house, or help to plan butterfly-attracting flowers, you’re invited to attend for FREE! For all the latest news, be sure to “like” them on Facebook!  Click HERE to do so.

Saturday, May 18: 10 am – 4 pm 

Lunch provided at the event

(rain date: May 25)

Categories: Community News, The Sciences at APS | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Allendale Middle School Collaborates with GVSU on Project Budburst

Dr. Peter Riemersma & Mr. Keith Piccard

When Dr. Peter Riemersma, Geology professor at Grand Valley State University, first approached a group of Allendale teachers last summer about the idea of creating specialized gardens for student use on the APS campus, they were all ears.

The idea? Why not plant Michigan-specific species on the Allendale K-8 campus so that teachers have a nearby location to do research and take science “field trips”?

The teachers embraced the possibility of being able to study plants, trees, and shrubs up close and help to record data about plant phenology into the Project BudBurst National database. Project BudBurst relies on the observations of thousands of school groups, hikers, gardeners, senior citizens and others who wish to contribute to the climate change conversation and its effect on plants. We are pleased to join the ranks!

It also operates on the premise that regular observations recorded in field journals will be added to the database and analyzed by scientists looking for trends. Dr. Riemersma and Mr. Piccard believe that Project BudBurst would provide the perfect opportunity to get kids outside and enable them to enjoy nature while engaging in meaningful learning experiences. 

Students working with this national initiative will consider difficult questions about our changing climate and will work alongside interested community members to find answers.

Allendale sixth grade Science teacher Keith Piccard

Keith Piccard, who spends time doing field work in the state of Wyoming during his summers, is especially excited to contribute to field work right here in West Michigan. “I want as many kids possible to be outside. By connecting with Project BudBurst we’ll have 5-10 minute activities built-in so that kids can interact with science. Longterm, I’d love to collaborate with others to write a new outdoor curriculum that would also incorporate geology and aquatic invertebrates.” 

Dr. Peter Riemersma

For his part, Professor Riemersma is taking a sabbatical next year and will spend his time writing grants with the hopes of funding additional trees and plants to add to the Allendale BudBurst garden, as well as expanding the curricular focus to include more areas of study. 

Dr. Riemersma contacted Project BudBurst to obtain a list of recommended plants for Michigan participants; using these plants ensures that species specific to our region will be represented in the garden.

Both he and Mr. Piccard are looking forward to initiating Allendale’s participation in this project by launching a Community Field Day on May 12. This day will give community members, parents, students, and teachers the opportunity to plant new flowers, trees, and shrubs that will then be observed for years to come.

We are so grateful to both of these men–and the many others working behind the scenes–for their vision, their dedication to excellent authentic learning experiences, and for their generous gift of time to make it all happen!

Mark your calendars now for May 12 and come back next week for more information.

Lastly, If you would like to help with this project by acting as a sponsor, please contact Mr. Piccard or Dr. Riemersma.

Categories: Community News, Special Projects at APS | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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