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Using a Rain Garden to Teach Hydrogeological Concepts in a High School Science Classroom
Brase, L., Robert G. Ford, H. Mayfield, A. Parker, A. Lehmann, AND S. Meadows. Using a Rain Garden to Teach Hydrogeological Concepts in a High School Science Classroom. Geological Society of America 2022 Joint North-Central & Southeastern Section Meeting, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 07 - 08, 2022.
This presentation shares hydrogeologic curriculum materials that describes the use of green infrastructure, specifically rain gardens, to mitigate stormwater runoff and teaches hydrologic monitoring skills to high school students. The accessibility of the teaching materials will enhance school and teacher buy-in for green infrastructure installation and will help facilitate conversations between schools and local agencies. The presentation also describes how course materials can be modified for a broader audience, which can be useful to state/local agencies that are trying to increase public awareness of stormflow management. The presentation material also provides a model for developing hands-on training materials for monitoring techniques that can be used by EPA Regional staff.
In early 2020, volunteers supporting the Cooper Creek Collaborative (coopercreek.org) installed a rain garden at Deer Park High School (DPHS) in Hamilton County, Ohio. This initiated a collaborative effort to demonstrate use of green infrastructure to mitigate stormwater runoff to local sewer systems and provide an educational tool to teach students about hydrology, ecology, and how human activities can impact our local environment. In collaboration with DPHS, an eight-day unit was created to raise awareness of the local stormwater runoff issue, teach hydrogeological field skills, and provide an opportunity to collect and process unique data. The intended audience of the rain garden unit was physical science students; however, the unit was modified and used in physics classes as well, thus proving the curriculum could be implemented in a variety of courses with appropriate modifications. DPHS was especially eager to offer hands-on experiences for students returning from a year of remote learning due to COVID-19. The rain garden unit began with classroom activities to introduce students to hydrology in an urban watershed. This was followed by the students being tasked with determining how much water the rain garden could capture and divert from nearby storm drains. The students formed teams and used metersticks and bubble levels to conduct an elevation survey for a reference grid established within the rain garden. The relative elevation data collected was then used to teach graphing skills and to construct 3D models to provide physical representations linked to their volume calculation estimates. Student data and volume estimates from the six classes were within 3-11% of volume estimates derived from traditional surveying measurements. This initial effort laid the foundation to develop additional physical science curriculum materials linked to the rain garden including teaching hydrogeologic skills such as analysis of staff gauge data, rain gauge data and soil percolation tests. Future efforts will include curriculum development to address concepts in biology and chemistry.