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Early College Students Designing Park
Early College Students Designing Park
Posted on 02/05/2020
Buncombe County Early College first-year student Jennifer Flores takes a water sample.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Buncombe County Early College (BCEC) first-year students are working with a local nonprofit on a real-world park design project to benefit the community.

BCEC and RiverLink have teamed up to improve an undeveloped riverbank area in Azalea Park in the City of Asheville. The students are examining how to use innovative and sustainable design methods in public spaces to increase and support environmentally healthy interactions between humans and nature, said Jeff Fleckenstein, BCEC College, Career and Community Coordinator. Throughout this semester, student teams will focus on different project priorities, including a nature trail, pollinator garden, parking and seating, waste management, signage, and more.

“We’re connecting students to the broader community through authentic learning experiences,” Mr. Fleckenstein said. “This is a real-world challenge – how to redesign a park, and we’re going to solve it with our creativity, collaboration, and professionalism.”

A Buncombe County Early College student takes a water sample.On Tuesday, students tested water temperature, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and nutrient load in the Swannanoa River, which runs along the border of the park. Dipping scientific instruments and glassware into the water, they recorded and compared results with one another while listening to data interpretations by RiverLink staff.

“I feel like I’m doing something to help the planet and give back to the community,” said Jennifer Flores, first-year student at Buncombe County Early College.“We’re getting to work with a lot of people in the community to make this space better and more accessible and more desirable,” said first-year student Ash Marquis. “I really like that we’re contributing to something that’s bigger than ourselves, and we’re getting experience going through all these processes.”

“It’s exciting,” added fellow first-year student Jennifer Flores. “I feel like I’m doing something to help the planet and give back to the community.”

RiverLink previously worked with BCEC first-year students in November, when they collected and catalogued macroinvertebrates in the Swannanoa River at Charles D. Owen Park. That project familiarized students with how science works in the field.

They’ve learned how to use statistical analysis to process data and how to make persuasive arguments in a scientific context, said BCEC English teacher Philip Justen.

“They’ve been talking about this project in their math, science, and English classes,” he said. “It’s truly integrated, and we’ve been able to point to this project all year long as the students learn to do the work.”

The Azalea Park project officially begins on Feb. 27 at the Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center. There, students will meet community experts who will serve as mentors to the students during the project. At a Final Expo event (held at Azalea Park on May, 12 -- rain date May 14), students will "pitch" or present their designs/vision to the community experts and partners, RiverLink, and Asheville Parks and Recreation Department.


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In addition to the macroinvertebrates project with BCEC, Riverlink also shared a stream anatomy lesson with William W. Estes Elementary School students in October.

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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