Monday, November 4, 2013

Earth Camp Primes Future Environmental Scientists

by Susan Wall, Youth Education Coordinator, City of Austin Watershed Protection

Kids from all across Austin are delving into the science of Austin’s Watershed’s through Earth Camp this fall. The City of Austin Watershed Protection partners with Austin Independent School District each year to host more than 1,800 students for Earth Camp, a field science watershed education program for fifth-grade elementary school students attending Title I schools.

Hands-on, experiential learning gives kids the boost they need to succeed at understanding the earth sciences at Earth Camp. It is so valuable for ten-year-old children to take their understanding of a classroom watershed or aquifer model and apply it to the land they are standing on at Earth Camp. The connection is “the real thing!” Students use laboratory equipment like a magnifier to identify bugs living in the creek and a thermometer to measure water temperature, and ultimately learn that scientific inquiry is a valuable way of examining the world. Best of all, students spend healthy time being active outdoors while learning!

All Earth Camp content is connected to the required science curriculum. Students explore local watersheds at McKinney Falls State Park, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, City Parks, and Barton Springs. When the students collect organisms from Onion Creek or a cave in an aquifer recharge feature they feel like real scientists. These kids are our future, one that includes an understanding of Austin’s water resources and how to protect them!

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