Several years ago, Trina Ludvik was among the charter class of environmental educators who were certified in the Exploring Alabama’s Living Streams (EALS) curriculum. The curriculum was developed by Alabama Water Watch (AWW) and the AU Department of Curriculum and Teaching, and adapted from AWW’s Stream Biomonitoring manual and protocols (click here for information on EALS).

Students apply a rain event to their watersheds
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Due to the classes she was teaching at the time at Bessemer Academy (in Bessemer AL), she was unable to implement the curriculum as a stand-alone unit as it is intended to be taught.  The best she could do was to work in a little stream macroinvertebrate sampling for Earth Day, a few group activities from the Project Wet, and a little watershed education here and there.  This school year she was assigned to teach the high school’s environmental science class. Finally, to her delight, she had the opportunity to teach the EALS curriculum in full!

Several of the EALS hands-on activities brought the information to life for her students, and one in particular – building watershed models. She provided the ingredients for the salt dough, and the students got to work.  Through trial and error, they discovered the best way to angle the dough to create their headwater streams that fed into their lower reach streams. Creativity began to ‘flow’ as some asked to embellish their landscapes with rocks and sticks.  As soon as they got permission, several students ran outside to find their landscape materials. 

The models took longer to dry than anticipated which tested the students’ patience.  Every day the students came into class, asking if today was the day that they could test their models.  After making sure they were hard and the paint was dry, the watershed models were taken outside to expose them to precipitation (a watering can!).  Most funneled the water perfectly, but even the few that didn’t provided Ms Ludvik with a way to explain the topography of wetlands.

She is working on having her students certified as AWW water monitors, or junior water watchers, a new program that AWW is considering.  There is a stream that runs through the school’s campus, so it’s the perfect scenario for EALS and Water Watching!