Hands-on Wetland Experience and Action Day for Alexandria Students

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The Watershed Warriors are a student-led organization currently operating out of T.C. Williams High School that works to improve our environment by providing hands-on science education to local elementary school students. Even though many ACPS students live within a mile of wetlands, many of them have never had a first-hand experience. For the past two years, thanks to funding from past Action Alexandria grants, we have brought native wetland plants to local 5th-grade classrooms for a hands-on two-day classroom event. The students get the chance to identify wetland plants and plant their own wetland garden at their school. During spring, the students take care of their garden and watch their plants grow. At the end of the school year, students get the opportunity to visit and help restore a local wetland using the plants they grew themselves.

With our group of eight, we have worked with over 100 ACPS students, many from low-income families. Our club membership recently expanded fourfold. We would like to grasp this opportunity to expand our outreach so that we may provide hands-on learning to even more students. To reach more students, we have created a program called the Wetland Crash Course. The Wetland Crash Course will take students to a wetland for a day for the students to learn about the function and importance of wetlands in our environment. The students will start the field trip with a talk from a wetland ecology expert, where they will learn about the basic functions of wetlands, the significance of wetlands to our community, and how human activity can endanger wetlands. The students will then break up into groups and attend three stations. At the first station, the students will have a chance to conduct extensive water quality testing for environmental factors such as pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity.Through water quality testing, the students will learn about the challenges facing our wetlands while simultaneously learning about the scientific method and the importance of conducting scientifically rigorous investigations. At the second station, the students will be able to test their observational skills by participating in a scavenger hunt. This hands-on activity will encourage students to explore the biotic and abiotic factors that make up wetlands. The third station will engage students in a macroinvertebrate monitoring activity. Macroinvertebrates can serve as indicators of water quality as they are the first organisms to be affected by changes in quality levels. Studying macroinvertebrates will create awareness of the important relationships within a wetland ecosystem. After each group of students completes all three activities, we will regroup and discuss what the students learned. The students will then have a chance to apply their knowledge and directly impact their environment by participating in a trash pickup activity.

We plan on conducting this activity with at least two groups of 75 students in the fall. $1000 will provide funds to purchase the materials for these activities. These materials can be reused in subsequent years, potentially serving at least 150 kids a year. Materials include two water quality testing kits, all necessary materials for macroinvertebrate monitoring, and materials for the trash cleanup such as trash grabbers, gloves, and trash bags.

Ultimately, our goal is to improve our local watersheds and raise wetland awareness in our community. With Action Alexandria's support, we can expand our mission to include more students within Alexandria and help create the next generation of environmental stewards.

Comments

Go Watershed Warriors!

Love these students!  Go Watershed Warriors!

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