Thursday, July 21, 2016

STEAM Academy Outing 2015 III: Water and More Water

The last two rotations of the OKAN's Eugene Field Elementary's STEAM academy nature outing curriculum featured water information from educators at the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, a real asset for educating people around the state about one of our most precious commodities.

Recap of presenters also mentioned in previous posts

Presenters for the "Martin Nature Park Outing" were William "Bill" Diffin, president of the Central Oklahoma Audubon Society; Linda Daxon, Central Oklahoma Beekeepers Association and an OKC realtor;  Paul Olson, Ph.D., plant biologist from the University of Central Oklahoma; his son and assistant Luke; Kim Shaw, Blue Thumb education coordinator, Oklahoma Conservation Department; Kim's intern Ariel McAffrey; Karla Beatty, education coordinator, carbon/soil health program, Oklahoma Conservation Department; and Denise Ebersbach, Edmond community volunteer. Diffin, Daxon, Olson, and Ebersbach were mentioned in the two previous posts about the outing.

Watershed/Nonpoint Presentation, Blue Thumb Program

The Blue Thumb Program uses the 3-D EnviroScape (R) Watershed/Nonpoint Source model as a hands-on, interactive demonstration to illustrate the sources and effects of water pollution. Kim Shaw's interactive lesson hammers home how we consciously and unconsciously pollute our water supply and what we can do to prevent pollution in the city and in the country. 

Kim Shaw and Eugene Field STEAM academy students
Shaw and McAffrey, her intern, show how storm water runoff carries pollutants through the watershed to a pond, lake, river, bay, or ocean. By moving items around and by adding colored water to the once clear water supply, pollution and prevention management become clear. 

Ariel McAffrey,
Blue Thumb intern

Types of watershed pollution discussed

  • Residential
  • Stormwater and storm drains
  • Forestry
  • Transportation
  • Recreation
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Industrial (factory, treatment plant)

In the blue at the front of the model is the once clean water, which has been colored by adding different colored water which represents pollution from various sources. Eventually, the watershed will be entirely black. 

Some of the movable items include a storm drain pipe, bridges, houses, a barn, a factory, a treatment plant, trees, golf flags, cows, cars, a tractor, and a construction vehicle. Management practices are buffer strips, clay for making berms, manure container, soil, oils and chemicals (colored water or drinks). 

Did you know an overabundance of essential plant nutrients nitrogen and phosphorous can create overgrowth of algae, which can rob oxygen from fish and other aquatic animals? 

Willie Waterdrop's Obstacle Course 

Either after seeing examples elsewhere or by creating her own teaching tools, Karla Beatty built many of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission's hands-on activities used to illustrate the water cycle, e.g., Willie Waterdrop's Obstacle Course.

Using colored tarps, spray bottles of water, colored cones, hula hoops, beads, rope ladders on the ground, 3-D models, and much more, Beatty walks Eugene Field Elementary STEAM academy students through the cycle.

In the middle of the back is the clever 3-D representation of a toilet.

Four stages of the water cycle

 - Precipitation

 - Collection

 - Evaporation

 - Condensation

Walking through the rain curtain

Spray to simulate rain

Some elements discussed and experienced                      

 - Groundwater

 - Lakes

 - Snow and ice

 - Runoff

 - Plants

 - Clouds

 - Oceans

 - Sun

 - Toilets, faucets, glass, etc.

Schools and other groups may contact the Oklahoma Conservation Commission to check out trunks or to schedule presentations.

Here again is the group photo from the 2015 Martin Nature Park Outing for Eugene Field Elementary STEAM academy students. STEAM academy partners were OKAN, the City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Public Schools. Outing partners were the presenters and coordinator and the Boren Mentoring Initiative. Thanks to all.

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