Watershed Explorers

This innovative, hands-on environmental science program helps middle and high school students develop a closer connection with the natural world around them. This program requires students to make the connection between school, work and community and to apply science in a “real life” context. The students are introduced to hydrology, storm water runoff impacts, food chain relationships, the benefits of riparian buffers, and principles of watershed geography using various maps. Students will evaluate lifestyle choices that human watershed residents can enhance or change in order to have a positive impact on the river. The program is comprised of three parts; interactive lessons, a field study experience on the Anacostia River, and a restoration activity.


Course Themes

WE course curriculum covers three major themes: Principles of Watershed Mechanics and Anacostia River History, Identification of Environmental Issues and Threats, and Cultivation of Environmental Stewardship Behavior. Once they have learned the basics of watershed science and a basic history of the Anacostia region, AWS instructors introduce students to the contemporary environmental challenges that impact the river’s overall health. These lessons quickly progress into hands-on activities providing participants with the tools they need to become good, lifelong stewards of the environment.

Interactive lessons

The Watershed Explorers program begins and ends with interactive classroom sessions, chock-full of hands-on experiments and learning through interactive games. The sessions include topics such as healthy watersheds, challenges of the Anacostia Watershed, Anacostia heritage and how challenges facing the river can be met.

Canoe tour and viewing the wildlife on the tidal Anacostia

This is a field study experience where students will learn how to identify wildlife and learn more about the historical and social aspect of what they see. The focus is to expose the students to the habitat they have been studying and to show them a healthy way (both for the river and them) to enjoy it. While on board, students are instructed to reflect on their experience by writing a poem or drawing a picture.

Restoration Efforts in the Anacostia Watershed

Students have the option for an off-site restoration that includes a wetland restoration project in the mudflats of the Anacostia River or removal of invasive plants in a neighboring park. They can also participate in a restoration activity on their school grounds, such as cleaning up trash and debris or a tree-planting.

Course Schedule

Students meet with AWS instructors a minimum of five times in order to complete a standard course of study. Materials and activities presented during separate sessions inform each other and are each critical for student success. Please be prepared to commit your classroom or youth group to this minimum number of sessions. (AWS instructors will schedule sessions in consultation with teachers/leaders before beginning a program. Session do not necessarily need to be completed in the order given below.)

Sessions Activity
Sessions 1 to 3 In-class lectures and discussions (science and history); lab experiments.
Session 4 Outdoor field study on the Anacostia River (by canoe or pontoon boat). (Session includes basic water safety instruction and interpretive naturalist tour.)
Session 5 Environmental stewardship project. (Projects may focus on cleaning up trash, planting native trees, planting wetlands, stenciling storm drains with awareness messages, or removing invasive plants from area parks.)

Curriculum Note

The Watershed Explorers program meets standards for science education set by the National Science Foundation, the District of Columbia Public School System, and the State of Maryland; as well as, requirements outlined in the Chesapeake Bay 2000 agreement mandating “meaningful Bay or stream experience” for all area students prior to high school graduation.

 For more information please contact:
Ariel Trahan
Manager of Environmental Education Programs
Anacostia Watershed Society
office: 301 699 6204
cell: 301 768 0952
e-mail: atrahan@anacostiaws.org



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If you are interested in involving your students in this exciting project, please contact us for additional information.