Build a Stream activity teaches local students about our watersheds

November 16, 2021

The Virginia Tech Science Festival has returned to campus this year with free hands-on learning interactive booths and activities that showcase dozens of science education and research programs throughout the university. Once again, IGC Fellows volunteered to teach local students important lessons in global change science. This year, Gaëlle BlanvillainSam Lane, Chloe Moore, Melissa Burt, (pictured above) and Alaina Weinheimer teamed up to help 3rd graders from Gilbert Linkous Elementary understand what a watershed is and what happens to the rain that falls on the mountainous land around us.

The educational activity, created by Expedition Northwest, allowed students to visualize how water travels through an ecosystem similar to our own. During the activity, students crumpled pieces of paper to simulate the surface of an ecosystem with a mountainous terrain and then drew a river with water-soluble markers. After completing their drawing, they sprayed the piece of paper with water to simulate rain and watched the colors bleed in a way that resembles how water and its particulates (e.g. soil particles, pollutants, etc.) move.

“The students were about to hypothesize where they thought the water would flow if it rained, and then test their theory in real-time” Alaina Weinheimer said. “The activity is a great opportunity to build discussion of potential issues that global change (e.g. habitat loss, pollution, etc) might cause by using watersheds as a starting point,” added Melissa Burt.

Thank you Gaelle, Melissa, Sam, Chloe, Alaina, and the IGC Graduate Student Organization for representing the GCC with another superb Science Festival exhibit!