• bsmith2031

Go With the Flow: Bethlehem Elementary School’s Watershed Unit

Cross-disciplinary project-based learning opportunities grounded in the real-world experiences of the North Country challenge students to direct their own learning with relevant and local problems. An excellent example is our multi-year “watershed studies” in the 4th and 5th grades. As part of the unit of study, students are challenged to create ARC GIS maps that predict water flow within the watershed, work with Trout Unlimited to collect, categorize, and analyze trash collected along the Connecticut River, host a public watershed informational evening, and raise Brook Trout in the classroom to release into the Ammonoosuc River. Students also experiment with stream tables to investigate erosion control and then plan and test culvert designs to minimize erosion.

As a culminating event, the students design and create a GPS “drifter” to be released in the Gulf of Maine in June. The students design and construct the drifter out of materials provided by the Gulf of Maine Institute. Students not only get to build their drifter, but also they get to experience the open ocean on The Ninth Wave, a sailing catamaran out of Newburyport, MA.

Figures 1 & 2: Students tested and retested various ideas in a water tank

This drifter is utilized by the Gulf of Maine Institute to track the ocean current changes in the gulf created by temperature changes. These data are used as a part of a larger investigation into the impact on sea turtles and other marine life.

Figure 3: Aboard the Ninth Waive

Students, Donald Hilliard and Owen Snow, created the following script for an interview they are making using green screen technology.

Donald: Hi there. We’re reporters from News 03574 and are here to tell you about a drifter that was launched by the 4th grade at Bethlehem Elementary School last year. A drifter is an object that travels through ocean currents and has a GPS tracking device on it.

Owen: The students launched the drifter because The Gulf of Maine Institute was concerned that the temperatures in The Gulf of Maine were rising. Ocean creatures rely on temperature to know when to migrate such as sea turtles.