Using Model My Watershed with students along the Jenkintown Creek

Julie Slavet
Dec 13, 2016

Guest blog by Rosanne Mistretta, Director of Experiential Learning, Abington Friends School and member, TTF Board of Directors

I am currently working with science teacher Roseanne Liberti to pilot a new environmental science program, “Model My Watershed,” in her seventh grade science class.

The students have access to an innovative online, map-based tool that will allow them to learn about how water flows in Jenkintown Creek and explore the environmental impacts of such changes as building near the creek or replacing ground cover. The program is being sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Millersville University and the Stroud Water Research Center.

Because of the efforts of the Tookany-Tacony/Frankford Watershed Partnership, we’re in a unique position to highlight the conservation practices established on our campus.  The extensive riparian buffer and rain garden (funded by through the Delaware River Restoration Fund of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) that protect the headwaters of the Jenkintown Creek are great illustrations of the conservation practices that are discussed in the Model My Watershed program.

Last year, through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, the Villanova University Urban StormwaterPartnership (VUSP) installed a weather station on the roof of the school to monitor the riparian buffer. The station tracks temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed and other weather-related elements. Along with a flow meter installed in the creek, it’s possible to monitor the inflow and outflow of the stream, which has its headwaters on campus and is part of the Delaware River Watershed. VUSP also installed water-monitoring equipment at the rain garden constructed last fall.

Last Thursday, VUSP scientists described for the students how they use the data collected by all of this equipment to monitor the health of the watershed. Students did their own data collection and analysis on our campus as part of the program.  They were able to collect data with sensors that measured ambient temperature, light and humidity. They uploaded that information into the Model My Watershed program which graphed the data and helped them understand the differences in various areas on our campus.









Students started out with a lesson about the rain garden and the riparian buffer on our campus.  Susan Harris of Cerulean, Inc. and TTF Project Manager, gave an overview and tour of all of the significant watershed improvements at AFS.









Next, Sergio Catvajal-Sanchez and Samantha Butwill from Villanova University gave a great tour of how the raingarden works.  They gave background about the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership and the overall goals of their monitoring.









Back in the classroom they shared close up pictures of the weather station and downstream flow meter, a graph of rainfall vs stream flow that they created with the data collected by those instruments and some general information about water quality testing.


Next it was time to collect our own data.  We went outside and used sensor tags that collected data like ambient temperature, percentage of light, and humidity. The students collected data in two area, an area that could use a conservation practice (like the soccer field or the basketball court) and an area that already has a conservation practice (like the rain garden and riparian buffer)
Students worked in teams to collect the data that would be later graphed with the Model my Watershed program.
Sampling in the rain garden.
Back in the classroom, the students created paper watershed models to learn how a watershed works.
They crumpled paper to make “mountains” and then outline the mountains and rivers with different color markers.  They used spray bottles to “rain” on their models to see where the water would flow.
After using the Model my Watershed program, students gave speeches as their culminating activity.











In their speeches, the students gave an overview of the conservation practices that we learned about and gave some ideas of conservation practices we could implement here at AFS.

For more information about the projects along the Jenkintown Creek, visit Our Projects.

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