Drawing of a watershed.
Sarah, Ava Middle School
July 2001, the Bryant Watershed Project was awarded a grant by the
Missouri Department of Natural Resources to conduct a special project
for middle school students.
Our goals for this project were:
- Increase the scope
and clarity of Atlas materials on the concept of watershed, adding
supporting pages about the watersheds surrounding Bryant.
- Develop new materials
for the Atlas that would increase student awareness of the intersection
of our karst topography and nonpoint source pollution.
- Build on cooperative
relationships with the SMSU
Bull Shoals Field Station, the Missouri
Department of Conservation, and the Missouri
Watershed Information Network.
- Expand use of the
Atlas as a resource by working one on one with teachers in area
schools, identifying and overcoming barriers.
| How did the project do?
| Concept of watershed
"Almost everything runs together.
If one goes wrong, all goes wrong."
Sydney Schaeffer, fifth grader
|The concept of watershed is challenging
to explain on a middle school level. Our new section, What
is a Watershed, uses text, photos, and a slideshow
of maps to do the job. Illustrations and quotes from local
children help kids and adults relate to the information.
Click the map to see the slide
|As we worked with the Local
Watersheds Map and its accompanying lesson plan, Watersheds
Watersheds Everywhere, we realized that some of the small
sheds that share borders with the Bryant are actually in the Missouri
River Basin, not the White River basin. This necessitated another
article, called A Tale
of Two Raindrops, to explain the Ozark Divide.
Our volunteer photographer, Pete Callaway, spent countless
hours driving the six neighboring watersheds to add photographs
to the new stories on those watersheds. Our writer/editor, Marideth
Sisco, selected just four or five photos out of the 20-30 shots
he provided for each story. Pete also compiled the basic data for
Our goal for the minigrant was to add eight new content
pages to the Atlas; the actual page count is sixteen, counting the
karst movie and map slide show as only one page each.
"It was a learning experience for
me as well as the students. They were eager to learn more about
Darlene Davis, teacher
|Educational specialist Mary Chipps took
this lesson plan into five fifth grade classes in the Ava
Middle School. Each teacher conducted a short preparatory
session, reading through print copies of the What
is a Watershed story with the students. Mary then spent two
sessions with each class.
A total of 150 students completed this lesson. The
children were excited to locate their school and homes in the different
watersheds. However, we learned from the pilot that more time was
needed to cover the material. Along with other revisions suggested
by Mary and the teachers, the lesson plan is now divided into two
"Students relate to
this personally, and it addresses our curriculum requirements for
Barbara Groover, teacher
Click to see the graphs
||Ms. Groover's class not only located all their watershed
addresses, they made graphs
of the class's population distribution. Our webkeeper, Susie Coobs,
was on site to support Mary, and made suggestions for how to brighten
up the drawings for the scanner. The children were so enthusiastic
they completed these revisions on their free time.
| Karst and Nonpoint Source Pollution
|"Don't have cows on a creek!"
Kelsey, fifth grader
"A lot of stuff is under the ground."Daniel
Farr, fifth grader
project got a quick start when we found illustrator Mark
Giles right here in our own back yard. He created a Flash
movie on karst and NPS for us. The movie opens with an animated
Ozarks landscape; subsequent "clicks" add a cutaway to show the underground
components of karst, and then potential sources of NPS common to our
area. Clickable "push pins" reveal the text. His exceptional design
work is a sophisticated addition that is most appreciated by the kids.
|As adjunct materials for
the movie, we created the Karst
Movie Teacher Guide, a complete lesson plan with an accompanying
Drawing by Ethan, Ava Middle School
||The supporting text for the movie created
a whole new section for the Atlas called Environmental
Education. This section contains the content on the definition
of nonpoint source pollution
and the interaction of karst
What to Do about NPS
includes multiple links to information and examples of Best
Management Practices. Pete added a dramatic story when he photographed
silting from a recently cleared pasture on a rainy
Mary set up and conducted sessions for all the Ava
fifth graders to see the movie in the computer lab. The students
read and discussed print versions of the material from this section
in preparation for viewing the movie. After the sessions, we reviewed
120 evaluations from the students.
- Those answering the question "Record two things
you learned" split their responses pretty evenly between learning
about karst features and learning about pollution sources.
- More than 10% specifically mentioned that they
did not know cows caused pollution in creeks, a significant problem
- As expected the kids liked the travelling log truck
and mooing cows. But we were pleasantly surprised that nearly
as many kids named how the push pins worked to reveal the specific
text as their favorite part of the movie. Many also mentioned
"I learned that when
you put trash on sinkholes, it just goes down and does not stay
Ashley King, fifth grader
"Students were able to see through
the cutaway what happens underground to the waterflow."
Mary Kay Davidson, teacher
Drawing by Rex, Ava Middle School
|One teacher took her class through the
third lesson, Down
By the River, and only used the classroom activity, not the
research assignment. She reported that the procedure, which has the
children act out gathering pollution along the river's path, worked
for her kids. She thought it was a worthwhile activity for them.
Interestingly, in January our webkeeper reported that
the What to Do About
NPS article has been linked to a page called What
is a watershed? on a site currently under construction by the
Prince William Environmental Network (Prince William County, Virginia).
We anticipated creating twelve printable pages of
lesson plans; the total is actually twenty-one. Teachers' responses
to all the lessons were very positive. Every teacher stated her
intention to use the lessons again next year in this same Earth
Science unit. They liked the interactive components, and how engaged
the students were by them. They commented on the motivation provided
by the local content. Most of all they valued the time Mary spent
with them to demonstrate the lessons.
| Collaborative relationships
|The movie and its supporting lesson plans
were up and running in time for the Missouri Department of Conservation
training on karst in the early part of August. More than 35
educators were introduced to the movie and the guides for classroom
use at that training. Print materials from the Project, including
the Karst Movie Guide, are permanent parts of the five karst trunks,
which Melanie Cardin Jensen reports are staying "rented" better then
50% of the time. At Mary’s suggestion, Ava teachers had a trunk in
the school during the time of the pilot project, and used the materials.
Click to see the map
||Mike Dickerson at the Bull Shoals Field Station created
the Local Watersheds
map to our specifications. However, we realized when we compared
our School Districts
Map to the Local Watersheds Map that a few watersheds
included in some school districts are not covered by our new map.
Mike is working with us to add those other watersheds.
|BWP consultants provided technical assistance
to the MoWIN Director, Tabitha Madzura, last fall as she wrote a grant
proposal for a three year project to build websites in five
watersheds around the state, using the Atlas as a model. The Middle
School Watershed Awareness Project definitely will serve as a template
for others to follow in how to introduce the use of those websites
to the stakeholders.
| Barriers in the instructional use of
|Since the fully operational site went up
18 months ago, we have been on a steep learning curve as we work with
teachers in seven local districts to get the Atlas in use. We are
becoming quite familiar with some of the barriers to classroom technology
use, and having some success in getting over them. Principal barriers
we've identified include:
1. Teacher work overload.
As a result, local usage of the Atlas was marginal. This project gave
us the chance to try several strategies in response:
2. Lack of actual practice using hardware--computers and digital
3. Lack of practice using Internet browsers and online resources.
4. Assumptions that online resources are not standards-relevant.
We created lively and interesting material about familiar local
We built lesson plans that are standards-aligned and curriculum
We sent resource people into classrooms to work directly with
teachers and students.
This combination of efforts appears to have been quite successful
in this school district. Mary worked extensively with the teacher
group as well as the librarian and computer teacher to prepare for
these lessons. She strategized with them about the technology available
to them, and how to use it.
In a preliminary visit, Susie noted that the Flash plug-in necessary
to watch the movie was not installed on the computers. When she
found that the computer support person was unfamiliar with the Flash
plug-in, Susie completed the installations herself. The value of
the initial hands-on aid Mary and Susie provided cannot be underestimated.
For many of the students and teachers this was the first time they
had used the lab this school year. About 25% of the students said
they had not visited a website before that day. Several of the teachers
were won over by the experience, and new relationships were built
with the computer resource teacher. The pilot effort in December
was directly associated with an upsurge in website page hits of
more than of more than 47,000, to a total of 111,332. Since then,
Ava Middle School students have continued to use the lab, visiting
the Atlas one or two hours a week. Led by Ava, local school districts
accounted for 30% of all hits in January without the presence of
Project consultants. This is an increase of more than 25% over the
first quarter of last year.
|Future use: This model for the introduction
of new material will be replicated by the Project in the future as
we develop other topics. Broad dissemination of this set of content
and curriculum is the basis for a larger EPA Environmental Education
grant now under consideration by the Regional Office. A followup session
has been scheduled with the teachers involved in the pilot. Finally,
we hope to build sequels to the Karst/NPS Flash movie, showing details
of the various sources and effects of NPS.
This project was a fertile field for BWP. We introduced a new level
of interactive technology to the Atlas. We succeeded in designing
a sequence of marketing and demonstration that produced a significant
change in the participating teachers. We are pleased to meet and
exceed so many of our goals and to learn from the challenges that
came up. Our young people, and our creeks, are the genuine beneficiaries.
"You got to check it
out. It is so cool. It might be about pollution, but pollution is
not cool. The website is."
Nicole King, fifth grader
Drawing by Kelsea, Ava Elementary School
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VII, through the Missouri
Department of Natural Resources, has provided partial funding for
this project under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. Further funding
provided by our Community Partners.
|Written by Lois Reborne
BWP Program Development.