Follow the Water 2018

School Programs to Know and Benefit the Watershed


Follow the Water @ Little Run Elementary

July 8, 2018
Thanks to everyone who came out this Sunday! We had great turnout, lots of families, including some hardworking Scouts! We got about halfway done with weeding and mulching the perimeter of the Watershed Garden, and had a team trimming down the invasive honeysuckle. And then we Followed the Water down to Long Branch, and played in and explored along the creek. We found deer tracks, a massive fallen tree with the root system still intact, dragonflies and fish and butterflies...I'm especially grateful to Allison and Bryan, from the Friends of Long Branch Stream Valley, for getting the word out to the community! Thanks to everyone who came!

June 7 & 8, 2018
Thanks to everyone who helped make the Follow the Water program happen last week. That was the first time I'd done a long session like that, it felt like a field trip! This is the third year of Friends of Accotink supporting watershed activities at Little Run Elementary! We're wrapping up the watershed engagement program funded by a grant from Fairfax Water, https://www.fairfaxwater.org/ which has been instrumental in supporting our work with Little Run Elementary and partners for the last two years.

Since it was raining, we brought water and the collection bags from Long Branch into the classroom, instead of bringing the students outside. We didn't expect to find much life due to the repeated floods and the fact that we were a bit late in the season, but students were able to observe a good number of benthic macroinvertebrates, primarily caddisfly and midge larvae. Students also performed water quality testing to evaluate the temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the stream.

I'm especially grateful to Mrs Davis and Mrs Breslin for arranging a full afternoon of Follow the Water activities with their respective classes! We were able to lead a presentation on watersheds, learning about stormwater issues, human impact, and how this affects the Little Run Elementary campus. The primary question that we're investigating is "What happens to the rain that falls on the schoolyard?". Students were especially intrigued by the contrast between aerial photos of the area from the 1930s and satellite pictures from now, showing how the landscape has changed from mostly forest and fields to suburbs with an abundance of impervious surfaces. Afterwards we did a stormwater mapping exercise, exploring the campus and identifying storm drains and other stormwater features. Apparently Pennywise the Clown has done much to promote stormwater awareness in today's youth.

Joe Hirz led the planting activities in Little Run's "Watershed Garden" with native plants from Earth Sangha, obtained through a "Plant Grant" by the Friends of Accotink Creek. Joe's expertise as a landscape designer and enthusiastic educator has been enormously helpful in the creation of the garden. Volunteers helped with the plantings and led a habitat and biodiversity station. Then we Followed the Water all the way down to beautiful Long Branch, where students had the opportunity to explore the "Forbidden Forest" and do some experiential learning along the stream.




Follow the Water @ West Springfield Elementary

June 14, 2018 –
The "Follow the Water" program with West Springfield Elementary went well. FACC was contacted a few weeks back by a community member who was concerned about students dropping trash in the adjacent West Springfield Park. We met along with some school representatives to talk about connecting students with their watershed, and we scheduled a "Follow the Water" program with the three 4th grade classes. It went well! We’ve got a pretty good format for these programs worked out, and we could be doing them at more schools. We can reach a lot of kids in a pretty short period of time, and get them thinking about their watershed.

The kids were great - this approach generally works well for engaging them. It was a lot to fit into 40 minutes, we were impressed how well they kept up! The feedback from the teachers was that this would fit well in their fall program, and that it could have been longer. A one-hour session would have given us more breathing room for discussion and a more focused exploration of the park.

In today's "Follow the Water" program at West Springfield Elementary, with the three 4th grade classes, volunteers from the Friends of Accotink Creek led a presentation about watersheds, Accotink Creek, and human impacts, and then "Followed the Water" from the school campus into West Springfield Park, learning about stormwater issues, biodiversity, and trail safety along the way. Students had the opportunity to meet their creek explore nature, talk to crows, and had many insightful observations and questions!

As the Friends of Accotink Creek, we always enjoy having a chance to share a nature experience in the Accotink watershed with students and we appreciate your students' curiosity, interest, and enthusiasm! We hope we can continue to work together! Glad we got to do this!

Thanks to community liaison for initiating and supporting this program, and to all the 4th grade teachers and their helpers for making this happen!

Presentation slideshow here: SmugMug