Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Week 3: Brainstorming Four Mile Run Watershed Problems

Teens sketched out their watershed problems.
Today kicked off with the teens reviewing information they learned so far about the Four Mile watershed. The teens reviewed how water flows through the watershed, with water draining down from the hilltops to the valleys and eventually to the Monongahela River. The watershed also contains a lot of impervious, hard surfaces such as roads and rooftops. Curbs and storm drains connect the hard surfaces to the combined sewer system. When it rains road runoff picks up pollutants and trash and transports it downstream.

A play dough model explaining how trash gets into a stream or river.
After the review, the teens formed four groups to brainstorm environmental problems in the Four Mile watersheds. Each group came up with a specific water problem and constructed a diagram or model to communicate the problem. Most of the groups focused on urban flooding or trash and pollution. One group of teens used play dough, colored paper, and toothpicks to create a model showing how trash gets into the river. The green play dough represents a forested watershed with no trash in the stream. As the stream flows through an urban area (orange play dough) trash washes into the stream. The teens suggested solving this problem by encouraging residents to recycle.

A model showing how trash and leaves can clog sewer lines.
Another group created a model explaining how trash and leaves can clog sewer lines. The teens used a piece of felt to represent a roadway and a clear plastic tube to represent a sewer pipe. To represent a clogged sewer line the teens added cotton balls and large fabric leaves to the plastic sewer tube. This clog blocks the flow of water and could cause flooding on the street.

At the end of the activity the teens presented their problems and models to the group. This activity will help the teens think about effective ways to communicate their ideas to other people. A skill that will come in handy when they are designing their exhibit.

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