Wednesday, November 12, 2014

‘River Residency’ with University of Michigan

Elementary students are getting hands-on river training thanks to the work of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and our portable Emriver models.

UM’s “River Residency” water education workshops use our Emriver Em3 geomodel at a local school to teach river science with a focus on erosion, flooding and groundwater pollution.

The photo below shows Alicia Comer, UM’s Museum of Natural History science outreach curriculum developer, teaching students about the interactions between humans and rivers. Students fortified banks with simulated vegetation and riprap. Their town flooded, and they learned what factors can lead to destruction.

Students build a town in the Emriver Em3 geomodel.

The next photo shows students using modeling media to build a dam. The students predicted the water would rise up over the dam. Instead they observed water penetrating the bottom of the dam which quickly destroyed it.

Students watch the river interact with their dam.

UM’s pilot River Residency in May spanned three days and involved students in second through fifth grade. Eleven classes in total took part, and workshops were customized for each grade level.

The second grade workshop explored flooding, and the students answered questions about where rainwater goes and what happens to a river during a flood.

Third grade students focused on how flowing water shapes a landscape. They experimented with multiple methods of erosion control.

Fourth and fifth graders studied how humans affect a watershed. They used dye to study how pollutants such as fertilizers spread.

UM plans to return to the same school next semester and expand the River Residency program.

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