Written by Sara Runyan, Cottonwood Institute Instructor
Hello Cottonwood supporters!
Christina and I had the pleasure last week of working with Breakthrough at Kent Denver, a program for motivated middle and high school students. We had 29 students for four afternoons on the Kent Denver campus. The High Line Canal, which is one of the longest canals in the country at 71 miles, runs close to campus so we decided to dive into the topics of water and water quality.
We were able to learn about where the water in Colorado comes from; for example, did you know that 85% of Colorado’s water lands on the west side of the Rocky Mountains, but 85% of the population lives on the east side? We talked about how water is transported and where it goes once it is distributed for use amongst municipalities (towns and cities), industry (factories and commercial activities), and agriculture (farms and ranches). We tested the quality of the pond on campus using tests from EarthEcho, which collects data from all over the world and inspires middle and high schoolers to become environmental leaders! On the last day we talked about why we care about water quality and usage, and built some filters of our own out of recycled and natural materials to purify the water. We also caught, studied, and released water-dwelling macroinvertebrates as part of our investigation of whether the pond was polluted or not. Macroinvertebrates thrive in healthy ponds!
Our program ran in the high heat of July afternoons in Colorado, so we used our topic to our advantage. We were able to play team-building games in big and small groups, spend time strengthening the Breakthrough community, and soak each other with a few sponge games at the end of the day to cool down! One of the most important things that we learned was “how to be a kid again,” as our participant Chris noted.
Last year, we worked with Breakthrough on a leadership and team building program, and we’re excited to see where this partnership will take us next. We could not have chosen a better way to spend our hot mid-July afternoons than exploring water and water quality with this incredibly insightful group of students.
Special shoutout to Earth Echo for the water quality testing kits – thank you so much!