On a cloudy, brisk morning, Acres Green Elementary 4th grade students greeted SOLE staff at the Tri-Lakes Office near Chatfield Reservoir. Although we had to be quiet inside the workspace, outdoors was alight with activity!
Students recounted their favorite part of the day being Chatfield lore when they toured the dam. Mrs. Kendall led them on a short hike across the high top of the dam. They also heard and smelled the frothy water at the outlet, where Mrs. Kendall told them about a scuba diver swept away through the dam and ejected there in the turbulent water. Kids surely appreciated the unique view and may have noticed a line of branches, which indicated the highest floodwater had ever reached.
Sheryl kept with the dam theme by discussing beavers! Many students guessed that beavers ate fish, but after looking at the skull, they realized beavers are herbivores who eat plants that grow near water.
We looked at a diagram of a beaver lodge and contemplated the pros of underwater entrances. Next kids whooped and hollered during a game adapted from Project Wild curriculum called Oh Beaver! Kids designated as beavers ran to grab resources (food, water, or shelter) to survive. Later kids acting as stalking mountain lions were introduced to regulate the voracious beaver population! Sheryl drove population dynamics home by explaining that resources, prey, and predators fluctuate and yet find a dynamic balance.
Finally, kids were able to gently feel the fur of a beaver pelt and exclaimed how soft it was!
Katie gave kids the opportunity to see water erosion on a small scale with stream models. Water dripped down onto sand and cut away the land.
Next Katie showed students the difference between porous surfaces that water can drip through, and nonporous materials that water cannot seep through. Kids took that knowledge to plan their own mini embankments using clay, sand, and rocks to imitate the dam that holds in the water of Chatfield’s reservoir. Kids with mucky, cold hands cleaned their stations then rushed to wash up in warm water.
Erin engaged kids with a colorful watershed model. They sprinkled different pollutants over the model to pretend that the town residents were clueless. When there was a big weather event, lots of rain, all the litter, loose dirt, and chemicals rushed downstream into the reservoir. Next they cleaned up the watershed and started over with new tactics to be proactive and plan ahead against polluting the precious water. Kids had fantastic ideas for how to reduce pollution on our model!
Energetic and insightful kids enjoyed their field trip by their local resource. The reservoir provided great inspiration for water activities, and the chilly morning bloomed into a fine day. We thank the Tri-Lakes Project Office for hosting this neat outdoor adventure, and we thank Mrs. Kendall for partnering with us and providing materials for our activities!