Sifting through sticks to find insects, peering into microscopes to view plankton and measuring the health of a river, school children learn that science is fun on Discovery Day field trips. The New Augusta, Mississippi program sponsored by Georgia-Pacific and Leaf River Cellulose brings kids in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades to a remote river sandbar where they get hands-on lessons that foster an appreciation for nature and the environment.

In this video, Georgia-Pacific Manager of Environmental Affairs Acker Smith and Public Affairs Manager Jana Bryant talk about how the partnership with educators from the University of Southern Mississippi and several local schools gives students a hands-on experience they'll remember for a lifetime. 

The field trip provides a fun and often novel activity for kids who may not typically get a chance to visit, much less study, a natural river sandbar habitat. In addition to identifying larval stage insects in woody river debris and examining plankton, the students collect fish samples directly from the river, and test the water pH and dissolved oxygen levels. 

Now in its 20th year, the project underscore's Georgia-Pacific's commitment to be part of the educational process, says Bryant. 

"We hope they take away from this a love of nature and a love of the environment that will carry on with them into adulthood."


Children: Welcome to Discovery Day! It's fantastic!

Man A: Discovery Day is a fun field trip for kids that typically in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. It's very hands-on. We have, you know, activities that the students rotate through. They help collect some fish samples so we can look at the fish that live here, and release those back. We have materials where they look for insect larva that live in the river, and they'll actually look at plankton under a microscope. Then the last station, we actually test the river, tell them they're the doctor, that's the patient. We want them to test the river to see if it's healthy. That's the four activities we go through here at Discovery Day.

Child A: We pick bugs out of sticks, look under the microscope. You can look at little plankton.

Child B: Well, class you have to sit down all day and it's like, you don't even get up. And here you get to just run around and do stuff that you like.

Woman A: I think it's a great opportunity. Our folks here in our environmental department are so invested in it. It's the 20th year for Discovery Day, so there's a lot of time and preparation and training that goes into doing this, and they're really passionate about it. It's all about promoting scientific literacy while we're having fun.

Woman B: It's very educational. The children learn a lot. Some of them don't get out of town too much or get don't get a chance to come to a place like this.

Man A: My favorite part of Discovery Day is the kids. They're a blast to be around. They're always eager to learn and experience something totally new, because most of them have never done anything like this before. Since we've been going on for 20 years, you have people that have been. They're adults now, and they come back and they can tell you, "Oh, I remember Discovery Day so vividly."

Woman A: You know, the Discovery Days program, it certainly underscores Georgia Pacific's commitment to being a part of the educational process. And, you know, we hope they take away from this a love of nature and a love of the environment that'll carry on with them into adulthood.