Miami HEAT, CASE return to Miccosukee for annual Glades Sweep

Students at Miccosukee Indian School and 5th graders from Riverside Elementary’s HEAT Academy program ran point in the classroom last month when Miami HEAT players and a legend walked into their classrooms.

HEAT forward Derrick Jones Jr., guard Chris Silva and retired forward and three-time NBA All-Star Glen Rice visited each classroom to work alongside the students to explore different skills and concepts related to science research.

“The students were excited to teach a professional athlete the science they’re learning,” said Nicholas Ogle, assistant director of Education Outreach in FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education. “The kids were inspired by the NBA players interest in STEM education and it was rewarding to see them demonstrate how to measure the salinity of water and the proper way to use the tools at hand.”

More than 100 students got to interact with the players as part of The HEAT Glades Sweep presented by Miccosukee Resort & Gaming. Now in its ninth year, the Miami HEAT returned to the Florida Everglades for the fourth time in as many years.

The event was meant to increase awareness for Everglades restoration and the many threats the ecosystem faces. It also highlighted the importance of the Everglades for the South Florida population as a source of fresh water, flood control and recreation.

In 2019, an educational component was introduced to The HEAT Glades Sweep in the form of a science fair, where students rotated around STEM-related learning stations, each highlighting the research and activities of FIU labs and student groups.

This year, the college’s Education Outreach team took it to the next level.

Faculty and Staff led six different 30-minute learning labs that incorporated hands-on activities related to STEM Education:

  • Planet Plankton: Students observed different plankton species and their unique anatomy under a high-powered microscope and then built models with corks, pipe cleaners, cling wrap and aluminum foil to test the buoyancy.
  • Aquarius: Students figuratively dove into the world’s only underwater research base by wearing an aquanaut’s diving helmet and learning about diving physics through an air pressure activity. 
  • Sea Level Rise: Students tested the salinity of water with Refractometers and identified what bodies of water samples came from with a temperature portable meter.
  • BBC Science Club: Undergraduates taught the elementary school students about the consequences of acid rain by demonstrating how vinegar and nitric acid affect different types of metals.
  • Tech to Protect: Staff used different forms of technology including x-rays and go-pros to better understand animal behavior, physiology and holistic health.
  • CRUSTOMICS Lab: Students played a game with pool noodles as antennae to demonstrate how they’re helpful in finding things in the deep sea, lab members discussed the role bioluminescence plays in the deep ocean and the kids got hands on with specimens including blind lobsters, shrimp and crabs.

It didn’t stop there.

The HEAT players, HEAT Group staff, members of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians and volunteers from the College of Arts, Sciences & Education grabbed screwdrivers and shovels to complete a variety of service activities including preparing an irrigation system for raised garden beds, removing evasive species and planting native host and nectar plants for butterflies, bees and birds, installing solar lighting for chickee huts, decorating planters and building 100 percent maintenance-free vinyl benches.

HEAT Glades Sweep is part of NBA Green efforts to generate environmental protection awareness and funds. In previous years, FIU and the Miami HEAT have teamed up for projects throughout the county, including installing butterfly gardens at the Biscayne Bay Campus, creating outdoor classrooms at Jesse J. McCrary Jr. Elementary and building sea turtle nesting sites along Crandon Park Beach in Key Biscayne.