Taking Water Harvesting to High School 

When I got a call from Amy Bell, lead Landscape Architect at Groundwork Studio, about providing a high school with water harvesting activities, I couldn’t resist.  Look at that rooftop on the south side of the school building, draining onto an gravel-covered opportunity site!

A project-based curriculum for high schools, Water Harvesting on Site, is one of the results.  Initiated in early 2017 at at ACE Leadership High School in Albuquerque, we developed a set of activities that guide students through the main steps of designing with rainwater.  We also provided a conceptual landscape plan for part of the school campus that would sink stormwater into earthworks (basin, swale, berm) for landscaping plants and store it in a water catchment tank for a garden bed.

The preliminary curriculum is now offered to educators who are interested in integrating Earth Sciences, Mathematics and Design lessons on a school campus or other local site.  The focus is on the place where students go almost every day, where they can relate to stormwater as a resource for growing food gardens and healthy landscapes.

The curriculum is aimed at project-based programs where instructional support and materials can be provided.  The activities can be connected to STEM standards (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), plus Art!  In addition to project-based learning, this could work for an independent study program or even home schooling.

Considering the children and youth in this age of climate change, we need to generate on-the-ground experiences that connect rainwater, soil, and plants, leading to resilient landscapes.

Activities

  1.  Site – Observe and Map Water Flows
  2. Site – Assess Rooftop Water Supply
  3. Site – Assess Soil Drainage
  4. Site – Survey contours
  5. Site Summary: Landscape design – mapping
  6. Environment: Watersheds and Drainage
  7. Environment: Precipitation and Climate
  8. Environment: Plants and Water Demand
  9. Design Strategies: Water Storage
  10. Design Strategies: Earthworks
  11. Design Strategy: Soil enrichment
  12. Option: Design project

Educators who are interested in reviewing the curriculum can contact Joanne McEntire on the Contact Page.  Please note your school or organization, and location.

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