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More than 130 sixth-grade students from the Loyalsock School District learned about the water cycle from watershed to faucet during a field trip to the Waterdale Environmental Education Center on May 2-3. The event was organized by Waterdale partners, including Walt Nicholson, center director, Williamsport Municipal Water Authority (WMWA), Lycoming College’s education department and Clean Water Initiative (CWI) and Lycoming County Conservation District.
As part of this year’s theme, “Protecting Your Watershed and Protecting Your Drinking Water,” students learned about aquatic biology, water quality monitoring and water cycles before taking a tour of the water treatment plant operated by WMWA. They also learned how to identify plants, trees and birds based on sight and sound cues.
“The activities provide students the opportunity to make deep, meaningful connections between what they’ve learned in the classroom to the natural environment,” said Nick Hessert, science teacher at Loyalsock Township Middle School. “Here, they get to use more of their senses, like smelling plants and listening to birds, to learn about their world. They also get to run more accurate tests than we can in the classroom and apply skills from other disciplines.”
Workshops were taught by professionals from a number of community organizations including Renee Carey of Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, stream table; Mark Stevens of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, groundwater model; Ted Loy, hydrogeologist, water cycle; Alyssa Henry, West Branch Regional Authority, ground water model; Larry Bennett and Nicholson, water quality monitoring and treatment plant tours; Gary Metzger, Lycoming Audubon, birds along the Discovery Trail; and Mel Zimmerman, Ph.D., director of the CWI, aquatic biology.
Supporting the workshops were Emily Bohlin, biology lab manager at Lycoming College, and Dana Springman, WMWA. Ron Beach showed mammal skulls and helped Bohlin with a scavenger hunt. Mike Kuriga a certified falconer used a live raptor to help explain the importance of birds of prey.
Located in the Mosquito Creek Watershed near the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority filtration plant, the historic Waterdale Lodge is the center for a collaboration of public water supply utilities, academic resources, and local and state conservation agencies and organizations. The partnership provides opportunities for community education and outreach programs that emphasize the science and importance of good stewardship, and the protection of natural resources and public water supply sources. More information is available at: http://www.lycoming.edu/cwi/waterdale.aspx.