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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“Splash into Science” was exactly what students did during their Kids On Campus program in Keene two weeks ago. Steve Hale and I were fortunate enough to facilitate 11 middle school students during the week long session based on the LoVoTECS network data. Students learned how to define a watershed and several ways to assess water quality. Campers battled mosquitoes and lugged sledge hammers, waders, specific conductance meters, PVC housing, rebar and other equipment out to our site on the Ashuelot River to deploy a set of HOBO data loggers. Like the LoVoTECS network, sensors we set to collect temperature, electric conductivity (EC) and water pressure measurements at 3 minute increments. Macroinvertebrates were also collected in buckets and brought back to the classroom for classification. The faces of damselfly larva shocked students at first glance under the dissecting microscopes. The data from macroinvertebrate inventory was combined with the sensor data in order to draw a general conclusion of the Ashuelot’s quality of water. To the students’ surprise, EC levels were hundreds of mircosiemens lower than their predictions. In order to solidify the concept of how humans influence water quality within watersheds, students participated in a water pollution and land cover graphing activity with Skittles as well as Watershed Bingo. My favorite activity of the week was a concept analysis of the term “watershed.” On the first day of camp, prior to any ground-laying conversations, students were asked to draw a watershed. A majority of them drew an image of a shed with some sort of pipe system inside. On the last day of camp, students were asked to draw a watershed again. This time, their drawings included rivers, tributaries, and mountains along the perimeter, farms, factories, roads and bridges. It was clear that all students had a solid understanding of how to define the term. The students showed off their new vocabulary and summarized their findings by creating posters for a poster session for their parents and guardians. It was really neat to see the students articulate what they had learned during the week. We are working on packaging this week-long curriculum so it may be used in future camps or classroom settings.

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