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2012 Grant Awardee - Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center

02/22/2012 4:23 PM | Anonymous

Project: “Exploring the Urban Water Shed” program

SWEP awarded a $2,000 grant to the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center to hold its “Exploring the Urban Water Shed” program for rising 9th grade girls this summer. Ms. Karen Young, Director, submitted this application to offer a two-week extracurricular experience for 12-15 girls. This program will be held in collaboration with the Philadelphia Water Department, the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center, and a University of Pennsylvania scientist. The program will allow the girls to learn about our local waterways and the need and efforts to protect them. They will be in the field “engaging with practicing professionals, taking water samples from the Schuylkill River and soil samples from its tributaries, wading in a running stream to collect macroinvertebrates and touring a municipal scale wastewater treatment facility.”

Newsletter Article for the 2012 Exploring the Urban Watershed:

August 6th was the start of our new two-week girls summer program, Exploring the Urban Watershed.  The participants were selected based on academic merit and a brief essay.  “Each one of them had a fabulous essay,” Meg said.  “It was really inspiring to read.  I was excited to put our theoretical program into practice as we have been working on it for a long time.”  The program was funded in part through a grant from the Society of Women Environmental Professionals.  The focus was on rising 9th graders and providing them with an authentic field and lab experience.   “Our goal was to get girls feeling confident and excited before entering into really important academic years.  We wanted them to see science in action – we visited treatment plants, working labs, got into the creeks and met scientists working in a variety of fields.”

The program concentrated on first understanding the context of water in Philadelphia and laying the groundwork for us to dive or should we say careful step into our Case Study.   Once the background had been set we turned to how scientists look at these rivers and the methodology they use to study them.  In a creative way we tried to get them to think about the scientific method – asking questions, making observations, looking for patterns, and finding different ways answer those questions and problem solving.  After the first week of the basics, we got into our specific case study in the Darby-Cobbs Watershed.  Here we had the opportunity to partner with the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center.  Their laboratory facility was a great resource for us to analyze our collection data.  A Digital Scrapbook is available for download.

The group went into the creek, a new experience for many of the girls and a good one thankfully!

It was a comprehensive experience.  Our intent was to look at the whole picture of our urban watersheds and step into different aspects everyday.  The watershed view lent itself to naturally finishing with advocacy and stewardship action.   This inaugural program was a success and we are looking for other partners to bring science alive in the future.

Photo Credit: Don Pearse Photographers, Inc., http://donpearsephotographers.com/

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