Blast off! Journey to Mars with Algae!

Blast off! Journey to Mars with Algae!

May 30, 2021

Blast off! Haley Roach and her teaching team of Park Heritage Middle School has created a “Journey to Mars” project for her students involving math, physics, biology, government, and, most importantly, ALGAE! Haley teaches 6th and 7th grade science at Park Heritage middle school in rural Indiana, and absolutely loves her job. Algae Research and Supply (ARS) was lucky enough to meet Haley when she was designing the “Journey to Mars” project, and we are very excited to learn more about her! 

Haley Roach

Haley describes teaching as “the best job in the world”. As her mentor once told her, being a teacher gives you the freedom of an entrepreneur, and the job security of a businessman. Haley finds this sentiment true. She loves her students and creating lesson plans is a creative outlet. “Teaching is my job but also my hobby,” Haley says. She is able to explore her creative side when designing lessons and her classroom, and is happy to spend time with funny, smart, and creative tweenagers. 

Haley's students working on the "Journey to Mars" project

The “Journey to Mars” activity is Haley’s end of the year project. You can find more information here. This project not only involves science, but math and social studies knowledge as well. It involves the whole teaching team! Haley was inspired to do the project because she knew that algae is an excellent source of oxygen, and is edible. She found ARS online and bought some algae. Though the project started out a little rocky, Haley got in touch with Matt (ARS’ Cheif Scientist) and they worked together to make the project a success! Haley says “it was really easy to work with Algae Research and Supply, I wish I'd found you guys sooner. There are lots of free resources and help”. 

Algae Research Supply's Chief Scientist Matt Huber explaining our kits to students

Haley thinks it’s incredibly important for kids to learn about algae. “Half the world’s oxygen comes from algae,” Haley says. In the future, she wants to ask her students where oxygen comes from, and explain the importance of algae to them. Plus, photosynthesis experiments and demonstrations are much easier to do with algae than with land plants in terms of time and space. Haley’s classroom is full of algae cultures in our Beaker Bags. They don’t take up a lot of space, and are easy to clean up. Finally, the potential for algae to be used as biofuel is a fascinating concept Haley has introduced to her students. Her students have been very interested in the concept of algae as biofuel, which is promising, as they are our future scientists. 

ARS Beaker Bags in Haley's classroom

Haley did not always know she wanted to be a teacher (which I think is crazy because she’s so passionate). Haley studied at Purdue university, and was initially on the Pre- Vet track. However, Haley did not like cutting things open, and quickly switched to biology. While studying biology, she realized she loved it and understood it much more than her peers. She began tutoring her peers in biology, and the lightbulb went off -- she should be a biology teacher!  Haley initially taught high school bio, but when she was on maternity leave, a job opened at her local middle school. Though she initially never thought of teaching middle school, she had a gut instinct that it would be perfect for her. “I had to have this job… I wanted to be Miss Frizzle,'' Haley joked. Haley has now been at Park Heritage middle school for three years, and is so happy to be teaching all kinds of science, meeting creative, smart, and hilarious kids, and participating in the community she teaches in. 

For more info about the “Journey to Mars” project, click here

For algae lesson plans, click here

- Erin F. Fox, 2021