Sandia LabNews

Watershed models offer learning moments

Image of In order to simulate rainfall and see the roll it plays in pollution, 4th and 5th graders at San San Antonio Elementary School enjoy spaying water on a watershed model during a demonstration by Sandians on March 6, 2023. Photo by Craig Fritz
HANDS-ON LEARNING — Students at San Antonio Elementary School pollute a watershed model with coffee grounds that represent animal waste, soy sauce that represents motor oil and cake sprinkles that represent trash. They use spray bottles to simulate rain to learn how they can help keep rivers and lakes clean. “It’s fun interacting with the kids and seeing them excited about learning,” stormwater program lead John Kay said. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

A team of water quality and environmental professionals from Environment, Safety and Health planned and provided hands-on education in 40 fifth-grade classrooms at 22 Albuquerque-area schools this year. The group joined RiverXchange to teach students the importance of preventing water pollution. RiverXchange is an organization that educates the public about life in a watershed and provides elementary teachers with curriculum and activities to explore water resource topics with students.

“These presentations help Sandia meet EPA permit requirements for public outreach and education, so it’s really gratifying to be able to do that while also giving a little back to the community,” stormwater program lead John Kay said.

Image of Sandians Shawn Howry, left and John Kay demonstrate stormwater runoff pollution to San Antonio Elementary School 4th and 5th graders on March 6, 2023. Photo by Craig Fritz
INCREASING STORMWATER AWARENESS — Sandians Shawn Howry, left, and John Kay teach fifth graders at San Antonio Elementary School about how individuals can make choices that keep rivers and lakes clean and free of common pollutants. “The kids were always eager to engage in the activities and dialogue sharing their own experiences with water runoff and understanding pollutants,” strategic planner Shawn Howry said. “It was promising to see how much they really understood promoting practices to minimize impacts and help preserve our environment.” (Photo by Craig Fritz)
Image of A rubber duck sits in an example of stormwater run-off pollution during a demonstration by Sandia volunteers at San San Antonio Elementary School on March 6, 2023. Photo by Craig Fritz
TAKE A SWIM — Students at San Antonio Elementary School polluted the watershed model to show how soil, animal waste, pesticides and trash can impact wildlife that relies on rivers and lakes to live. About 1,000 students were impacted by the Sandia education outreach effort in partnership with RiverXchange. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

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