October Fieldwork Coordinator Update

Ready or not, the rainy season has started. Water is trickling down streets, tumbling down creeks, and rushing into the Willamette. At the same time, Salmon are struggling to make it back home. This fall, our 4th and 5th graders are studying the path water takes from the headwaters of Tryon Creek to the mighty Pacific as the focal point for their unit on the water cycle and watersheds.

Checking water quality at Tryon Creek
Checking water quality at Tryon Creek

Earlier this month, the unit kicked off with a visit from a representative from the Bureau of Environmental Services who brought in a 3-D model of a watershed and answered students’ initial questions. The next week, the two classes traveled to Tryon Creek State Park on a particularly rainy day to learn about the Tryon watershed and further investigate  water quality, erosion and the relationship between forest and creek.

Last week, students visited the confluence of Tryon Creek and the Willamette River where they were given a tour by members of the Tryon Creek Watershed Council (TCWC). While there, classes viewed the 300 foot culvert which connects the creek to the river and prevents most salmon from accessing spawning ground. TCWC is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to replace the culvert and requested student assistance in educating people about the culvert and why it is a problem.

Piecing together a watershed
Piecing together a watershed

In the coming weeks, students will take a trip to the headwaters of Tryon- now an apartment complex which was co-designed with BES to be environmentally sustainable- and a journey to the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria to learn more about the Columbia and see where the river joins the ocean. Students will be creating materials to help educate other students about watersheds and the general public about the culvert issue on Tryon Creek. This project is a remarkable example of how students can learn about watersheds in a hands-on way while also working side-by-side with community partners to bring positive change to our ecosystem.

Detail from 4/5 map of Caruthers Park
Detail from 4/5 map of Caruthers Park

Meanwhile, all classes have completed their fall mapping projects. Every grade level mapped a different part of our community, starting with the Kindergarten mapping their classroom, all the way up to the 7th and 8th graders mapping the state of Oregon. Each map has a unique twist: the 1st and 2nd graders built 3-D models of the playground out of recycled materials; the 3rd graders mapped what everyone in school eats for lunch; one 4th and 5th grade class mapped how the South Waterfront Greenway is being used and by whom. Most of the maps incorporate art, math, geography and some sort of statistical data. They all will be displayed in the hallway for conferences- make the rounds and check them all out!

3-D classroom map built by 3rd graders
3-D classroom map built by 3rd graders