Posts Tagged ‘Tech Wizards’

A Sojourn into the Wizarding World

Posted on: June 24th, 2016 by Leslie_Zucker

After a year of activities ranging from dissecting owl pellets to rollercoaster engineering, the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program (AWSMP) presented some watershed activities to the 4-H Tech Wizards – students at Miller Middle School, Bailey Middle School, and Ellenville Elementary School. 4-H Tech Wizards is a Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County program run by educators Allison Solian and Matt Helffrich.


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Watershed Educator, Brent Gotsch, and Bailey Middle School Tech Wizards exploring watersheds and the importance of watershed protection.


Our first session with the wizards started off with a discussion about the water cycle and where water comes from. We then focused on how water flows across the landscape and collects in a watershed. The wizards discussed things that humans typically build near water and then built a watershed from paper complete with farms, houses, and factories. We used different water-soluble colored markers to represent the pollutants that can be produced by those developments if not managed well, and filled in the crevices of the landscape. Then came the really exciting part – a spray bottle filled with water. “Wow!!” exclaimed the kids as they could see all the different “pollutants” run down from their developed areas and collect in the watershed in the middle of the tray. Our conversation seamlessly flowed into discussion about the importance of conservation and protection of our watersheds for human use and environmental stability.



Watershed Educator, Caroline Stupple, and Ellenville Elementary School Tech Wizards exploring the importance of wetlands and what removing them can do to the flooding pattern of a stream.


Our second session was another water-based activity – the floodplain model! The wizards were an engaged and thoughtful bunch whose enthusiasm for flooding out the little model villages they built was matched by their fascination with possible engineering solutions to the flooding problems. After testing predictions and solutions, the wizards were able to look at a Flood Insurance Rate Map for their school district and were surprised to learn about their school’s proximity to floodplains, and about flood protection techniques. At the end the wizards were allowed to stopper the end of the model and pour water on the rainmaker, this sent all their homes afloat; the pure joy this brought to the wizards was well worth it.



Watershed Educator, Matt Savatgy, and Miller Elementary School Tech Wizards manipulating the model and examining the impacts that developing impervious structures, such as parking lots, has on streams.


AWSMP had a great time working with the Tech Wizard’s 4-H Club and we look forward to more fun stream activities with them this summer!