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Partners in Environment (PIE) Day October 25, 2013 at Cold Spring School

Cold Spring is an Environmental Magnet School within IPS. Every year, students complete projects and attend special workshops completely focused on the environment. This year, the Center for Earth and Environmental Science (CEES) was pleased to be able to take part in this year’s festivities. Our K-12 educational outreach program, Discovering the Science of the Environment or DSE, seemed a natural fit.

Our education team wanted to do something fun while including as many core science fundamentals as possible. We decided to bring along our watershed model and use it to learn about erosion, flooding, and pollution transport among other concepts. We examined where water comes from in a system and where it goes when it leaves. Afterwards, we moved outdoors to investigate an actual mini-watershed in the school’s own backyard.

Due to some construction projects and the luck of the natural landscape, we were able to delineate a small basin that the students could use to visualize a genuine watershed scaled down. They didn’t even notice the math as they ran along the sides of the basin in an attempt to measure the area in order to calculate the area of our “watershed”. As a group, we finished the rest of the worksheet that was designed to show us why watershed investigations were important.

The worksheet supplied the average annual rainfall for the area. When this is multiplied by the area, the group could see the total volume of water that would be handled on average by this small area of land. Together, we postulated about flooding and they could see past damage from the creek just across the rise of our basin. We talked about where the water goes after it leaves our watershed, how all watersheds are connected and the impact this could have on the health of ourselves and our environment.

The kids expressed their gratitude and we all had a good time. I think we all are looking forward to next year.

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