Green Engineering for Stormwater Solutions

Grade: Fifth
Duration: Four 1 hour session (field trip possible to the San Lorenzo River).
Location: Classroom, schoolyard and field trip to San Lorenzo River

Materials, transportation and teaching provided free by the Coastal Watershed Council
Supported by generous funding from the County of Santa Cruz Green Schools Program, City of Santa Cruz, the Joseph and Vera Long Foundation.

Supports Next Generation Science Standards:
5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact
5-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

Complements FOSS Kit
Grade 5: Earth and Sun & Grade 5: Living Systems

Lesson Series Overview
Water can land on any surface on earth (hydrosphere, biosphere, geosphere, humansphere). Depending upon the surface, water behaves differently. Humans influence this natural water cycle with the introduction of impermeable surfaces and pollutants. When water hits an impermeable surface, water will pick up the pollutants and carry the water into the biosphere, geosphere, or hydrosphere. This is stormwater runoff. Students will create maps based on how water interacts with the different earth systems present on the school campus and explore how pollutants interact with the earth systems. Students will test out how the biosphere and hydrosphere can be used to reduce stormwater runoff and obtain information about green engineering practices that manages stormwater runoff. Applying what they have learned, students will build models of a green engineering practice to address a specific stormwater runoff challenge identified on their school campus.

Students will:
Session #1 (Schoolyard and classroom): Map out how water interacts with the hydrosphere, biosphere, geosphere after investigating how rain behaves on different surfaces. Observe a watershed model and make predictions of what would happen if humans introduced pollutants on the school campus. Revised maps to reflect new information.

Session #2 (Classroom): Investigate how vegetation (biosphere) and pebbles, sand and silt (geosphere) can be used to clean the water, sink the water, and slow the water in order to reduce stormwater runoff. Obtain information about specific green engineering practices (bioswale, rock-lined swales, rain gardens, permeable pavements) that utilize the biosphere and geosphere to manage stormwater runoff.

Session #3 (Schoolyard): Identify an area on the school campus prone to stormwater runoff and identify a green engineering practice the school can use to either clean the water, sink the water or slow.

Session #4 (Schoolyard): Build model of their green engineering technique and test their green engineering practice for effectiveness in reducing stormwater runoff.

Schedule “Green Engineering for Stormwater Solutions”
If you are interested in scheduling the “Green Engineering for Stormwater Solutions” lesson series, please use the below registration form. Please contact Mollie Behn, Education Coordinator, with any questions at


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