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DSE at Paramount School of Excellence

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The Discovering the Science of the Environment education staff enjoyed investigating Pogue’s Run with the 5th grade students at Paramount School of Excellence this month.  The stretch of stream under study is located between Spade’s Park and Brookside Park on Indy’s near eastside, adjacent to the students’ school.

The students first gathered information about the study site from the Mobile Technology Trailer utilizing Google Earth and watershed maps.  By viewing the “nesting” pattern of watersheds in subsequent Hydologic Unit Codes (HUCs), the students were better able to understand the interconnectedness of land use, water quality, and their personal relationship with the neighborhood stream.  They also learned the names of and practiced using scientific equipment for stream study. The stadia rod, gravelometer, and LabQuest with flow rate sensor were big hits! 

For the field investigation, DSE staff used equipment to demonstrate the techniques for measuring physical characteristics of a stream including width, depth, and velocity.  With several CSOs (combined sewer overflows) flowing directly into Pogue’s Run, we did not want to put the students at risk of contamination.  The students recorded measurements and performed all calculations necessary to determine discharge.  Then they used the Ohio EPA’s Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) to make an assessment of the aquatic environment.  Despite the point source pollution, they documented various stream habitats such as riffles, runs, pools, overhanging branches, and roots for biodiversity, and observed minnows, tadpoles, macro invertebrates and a family of ducks making Pogue’s Run their home.

The real success of this educational experience is due in large part to the dedicated staff at Paramount.  Lauren Mattingly, the fifth grade science teacher, used the afternoons prior to the arrival of the DSE technology trailer to introduce her students to the water cycle and water related issues.  Among the activities they did for preparation was a water cycle board game in which the students follow a water molecule through the global water cycle, assessing the phase changes it undergoes along the way.  Post-field investigation, CEES loaned the EMRiver Simulator to Andrew Hart, Environmental Director at Paramount.  Andrew demonstrated the model to the students to further explore the ways in which the physical characteristics of a stream are affected by human action and how erosional processes in turn affect us.

Ultimately, the partnership between Paramount and CEES has been an educational experience in which both students and staff have benefitted.  

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