A second-grade after-school student at Bay View Elementary School whips her hair in a circle, flinging water drops all over her fellow Watershed Rangers classmates as they squeal in a fit of laughter. Although the rainy season has not yet arrived in Santa Cruz and it’s a hot, dry Wednesday afternoon, Sofia’s hair is dripping with rainwater. Students participating in CWC’s Watershed Rangers education program know that hydrology, or the study of water, can be tons of fun.

On this after-school lesson at Bay View Elementary School, students have been exploring the phenomenon of how and why there can still be water flowing in the San Lorenzo River even though it has hardly rained in five months. Using sponges, buckets of water and native plants in 1-gallon containers, students discover that less water drips out from the bottom of the container than they poured in, and that water is still dripping out very slowly from the plant’s container after ten minutes. Naturally, the students ask if they can use the sponges to “test” how well some of their friends absorb water. A few volunteers, including Sofia, line up to experience how much water the soil and healthy roots of native plants (sponges) can hold as it slowly seeps into the river (onto a giggling Sofia’s hair) over time. As the giggles simmer down, we share our conclusions together – healthy soils and native plants can store water and release it slowly all the way through the summer. That’s one reason why the river has water even when it hasn’t rained.

In closing, students are asked where the water we used in this lesson came from. “The sink.”

And where does sink water come from? “The pipes.”

And where do the pipes get water from? “The river?”

And where does the river get its water in the summer? “The soil and the plants!”

And where do the plants and soil get the water? “The rain!”

So, where does the sink water really come from? “It’s the winter rain!”

As we prepare for the upcoming rainy season, CWC’s Watershed Rangers are happy to tell you about the pathways rain take after it falls from the clouds over the San Lorenzo River Watershed. We are excited for rain to make our soil loose and workable for youth to plant native species along CWC’s San Lorenzo River habitat enhancement site during Youth River Health Day field trips. We look forward to a wide-open river mouth and high river flows so we can continue to learn about the migration of steelhead trout. With the rains, our mountain forests, city parks, and cracks on campus blacktops become verdant ecosystems that beg to be observed and monitored. This is going to be the best winter ever!

Learn More about CWC’s Watershed Rangers:

Watershed Rangers Head Back to School

Although the weather in Santa Cruz still indicates summer break, it's time to sharpen pencils and put on that backpack. Back to school season is here and it influences almost all of us in one way or another. Maybe you have gone shopping to make sure your kids have...

Teaching the Importance of Water Quality Through the Eyes of a Steelhead

The Coastal Watershed Council’s commitment to preserve and protect the San Lorenzo River watershed includes providing watershed science education to over 2,500 Santa Cruz County youth annually. Be it a series of classroom visits and field trips, after-school...

Watershed Rangers Summer Programs Explore the San Lorenzo River

CWC's Watershed Rangers summer programs are an incredible opportunity to connect youth to the San Lorenzo River Watershed. Through several field trips, students recognize the scope of the San Lorenzo River's existence in their own backyard and beyond the city limits...

Youth Encourage River Stewardship at Downtown Businesses

“I am a Watershed Ranger and 4th-grader at Bay View Elementary School. I’d like your permission to post my flyer up in your store. The flyer shares how you can help to protect steelhead trout habitat.”If you have visited a business in downtown Santa Cruz...

How Former Governor Jerry Brown Supports the San Lorenzo River

People protect what they know and love. Even kids. CWC helps to cultivate this love for the San Lorenzo River for youth in grades K-8 through experiences, through knowledge, through little moments that make you wonder about how the river interacts with you and with...

Introducing Youth River Health Days

Participating in habitat restoration projects such as CWC’s River Health Days is a tactile experience for youth. Imagine... the crunchy soil tickles your hands, the clack of the shovel hits a rock reverberates in your ears, the sight of an earthworm inching by...

DeLaveaga Kindergarteners Become Watershed Rangers

On behalf of the Coastal Watershed Council, I want to congratulate each of the brilliant students in Ms. Zúñiga’s dual-language kindergarten class at DeLaveaga Elementary for achieving the highly coveted status of Watershed Ranger! These amazing youngsters...

After School Programs Teach Fly Fishing Along the San Lorenzo River

This school year the Coastal Watershed Council will bring 600 students to see, touch and explore the San Lorenzo River ecosystem. During these field trips, students learn about steelhead trout, native plants that create river habitat, and the bugs that...
Facebook Comments