Students get wet to learn lessons about water | VailDaily.com

Students get wet to learn lessons about water

Daily staff report
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VAIL — If you want to learn about water, then sometimes you have to get your feet wet.

Katie Lunde is Gypsum Creek Middle School's STEAM teacher — science, technology, engineering, art and math — although in this case the "A" should stand for angelic.

Lunde recently hauled 40 middle school students to Gore Creek, where Amanda Hewitt, Walking Mountains Science Center STEM coordinator, helped them learn how clean their water is.

Clean, they learned, but it could be cleaner. The lessons hit the students where they live.

"I care about improving the creek a lot more. We should go back again and do different activities that relate to what we did," said Daniel Gallegas.

The idea is to link STEAM lessons to the environment. Students participated in water quality testing, examining macro-invertebrates and landscaping.

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Pete Wadden, education coordinator with the town of Vail, heads the Restore the Gore project and was part of it all.

"When the field trip finally came together it was a total success. I had a blast playing and working by the creek and sharing my nature nerdy-ness with a bunch of students," Wadden said.

Bug-filled Studies

Students found that the number of macroinvertebrates decreased downstream from Big Horn Park to Aspen Court.

"I was so amazed at how many bugs that there were in such a little spot. Each bug meant a different thing," said student Alejandro Gonzalez.

The town of Vail landscape crew helped the students identify and pull invasive plants and plant native vegetation along the creek.

The students are using the data they collected to compare different watersheds around Eagle County to what they learned in Vail that day. They're also engineering water filtration systems people could use in their yards to prevent contaminated runoff from entering the watershed.

"Katie and I cannot wait to see this project repeated for years to come," Hewitt said.