Summer Environmental Education Academy

Summer Education Academy

We are one week and one day into the Summer Education Academy and we’ve already accomplished a ton!

Through a partnership with the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the National Park Service, and Akron Public Schools, we’ve developed a two week summer school curriculum focused on storm water runoff; both its causes and effects in the watershed.  Thirty students transitioning from 8th grade to freshmen year of high school join us for an academically rich, hands-on learning experience, right here in the national park.

Day one exposed students to the somewhat unfamiliar outdoor setting with a hike around the Virginia Kendall Ledges and some team building games.

Virginia Kendall Ledges captured by an APS student.

On day two, students read news articles and brochures on issues pertaining to storm water runoff.  Each student group created five research questions to investigate through the remainder of the two weeks.  That afternoon, students experimented with pervious and impervious surfaces around the EEC campus, contemplating how each reduces or creates storm water runoff.

Ranger Heather and her group of APS students. Students write down their daily reflections in composition notebooks.

Day three started with a hike to a headwaters stream.  Students measured stream substrate, bankfull width, pool depth, riparian zones, and canopy cover to determine the classification of the headwaters.  They also played a game highlighting the importance of biodiversity in an ecosystem.

On Thursday, students learned about low impact development tools such as rain barrels, rain chains, bioswales, pervious pavement, green roofs, curbless streets, etc.  Each tool is designed to mimic the natural flow of water in the environment.  The Akron students will later apply this knowledge to a real life setting; the high schools they will be attending in the fall.

Rain barrel at the November Lodge.

Students learn about steep slope protection by pouring water on each of these boxes. Can you tell which one is eroding?

Friday, we took a field trip to the Nature Realm, a nature center run by Metro Parks Serving Summit County.  Students were able to see the low impact development tools in action.  A scavenger hunt around the Nature Realm allowed students to see how green roofs, bioswales, and pervious pavement are implemented.  We also took a closer look at rain barrels and used some math to calculate the amount of rain a barrel can capture from a typical rainfall.

My group and I at the Nature Realm.

Students LOVED watching the birds and squirrels at the feeders outside the Nature Realm.

Today, we gathered back after the weekend and continued our investigation of storm water.  Groups met at the Akron high schools in the morning and looked for ways to incorporate low impact development tools at each site.

By the end of the week, students will create a cumulative poster board and a power point presentation on storm water runoff, on how we can reduce the impacts of runoff at each school.  We will also be touring the Akron waste-water treatment plant, bike the towpath and hike to Brandywine Falls.

So far, it’s been a great experience!  Good luck to our students as we finish out our final week.

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2 Responses to Summer Environmental Education Academy

  1. Pingback: The Amazing Race Challenge: Akron Public Schools Spring Excursion | CVEEC

  2. Pingback: Akron Public Schools’ Winter Excursion | CVEEC

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