Thursday, April 9, 2015

Little River heads to Environmental Education Association conference

In an effort to share our interest in outreach environmental education with others, we are attending the Environmental Education Association of Illinois Annual Conference at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Makanda, Illinois.

The conference began today and runs through Saturday, April 11. Amanda and Jim will be there for Friday’s events, which include an exhibition of one of our Emriver Em2 geomodels facilitated by Amanda.

This year’s theme is Bridging Gaps Under Southern Skies, which emphasizes the connection between creating programs for people from all walks of life and understanding how to align programs with STEM and Next Generation Science Standards. Sessions include Environmental Education in Practice, Environmental Literacy, and Journey into Environmental Education.

An Em2 at the Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium last year in Godfrey, Illinois.
Little River has always considered environmental outreach education one of the primary tenets of our models. From the U.S. to the UK and beyond, Emriver models have been used in demonstrations for all ages on how waterways are connected to the land and people.

By encouraging hands-on play and experimentation, people can observe different visible processes, such as infiltration, seepage, erosion, and deposition, while listening to an educator explain what is happening. Learners can then put their observations into words, involving them mentally and allowing multi-sensory learning to take place.

We're excited for tomorrow and the opportunity to teach fellow attendees and learning from them as well.

Blue dye helps visualize streamflow.

An organizer of MRWES examines our color-coded-by-size modeling media.

Editor's note: This blog post was written by Dr. Amanda Nelson, a River Scientist at Little River.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Powering Emriver Geomodels with batteries

Students experimenting with an Emriver Em2 geomodel.
There's nothing quite as cool as running an Emriver model next to an actual river! It's a fantastic way to teach fluvial geomorphology.

Our Em2 and Em3 models are designed for portability, and you can use them just about anywhere. For field sessions or spots without easy access to wall current (or "mains power" in the UK), you can use a 12-volt battery.

While we supply a battery power hook-up kit, we do not supply batteries. They are best bought locally. Here are a few tips on finding the right battery:

1. Make sure it's a "deep cycle" battery. Car and motorcycle batteries won't work. They are not designed to be deeply discharged, and they will be damaged if they are.

2. Make sure it's a sealed battery that can be tipped, even used upside down, without spilling acid. These batteries are designated "SLA" for "sealed lead-acid." Another designation to look for is "UB" for "universal battery." These are very commonly used for computer backup systems (they're inside that big black UPS box) and to power alarm systems during power outages.

3. Get a battery with at least 12 amp-hours of capacity; this will sometimes be abbreviated as "12ah."  The Em2/Em3 pump uses only about one Amp of power. A good 12 Amp-hour battery should power it for at least four hours. If you want to know more about this, there are many sources on the web, and here's a detailed one.

The photo below shows a good choice, a UB12120, or "universal battery" 12-volts, 12 Amp-hours. This battery will weigh only about seven pounds and be 6 x 3 x 3 inches in size. It's very compact and easy to manage. These can be bought locally and online.

Get a charger from whoever sells you the battery, and you're ready for the field! You don't need a large automotive-style charger. Here's a small one we like at LRRD.

A UB12120 universal battery.

Emriver battery adapter and extension cord.