Last week, the 6th grade class of Westmoreland County Middle School visited Menokin as part of the TOTS (Think Outside The Sink) program. TOTS is one of several programs that make up the Meaningful Watershed Experience Program that is a joint venture between several natural resource conservation projects in the Northern Neck.
The class divided itself along the gender line, so while the boys started over at the house, the girls took place in an interactive math and graphing experiment design to measure the volume of water in a riverbed.
This involved….MATH. And…..SCIENCE. And……CRITICAL THINKING. And, to be fair, a good amount of GIGGLING (these were 6th grade girls, remember).
The exercise worked like this. The girls formed two rows (representing flowing water sources) that converged at a few points and eventually narrowed into one end point. The flowing water was made up of dried beans, which were passed from person to person, heading downstream at a quick pace. The people at the convergence points had the toughest job – receiving beans from two directions and then trying to get them on their way downstream at the same time. Naturally, a lot of beans got dropped at these points, which represented the tendency of water to overflow or flood at these points when the volume is greater than the channel.
What thrilled me beyond all measure was that they were ALL participating. No one was hanging back. No one whining about being bad at math or science.
I wished out load that the beans were magic and would grow a beanstalk so we could steal the golden goose and fund our building project. This daydream led to the naming of their project as The Menokin Magic Bean Stream.
The beans that made it all the way downstream were counted and subtracted from the original starting number. This information was calculated by season and other variables. That data was then plotted on a bar graph to visually represent the information gathered.
I was so thrilled to watch our STEAM program at work and targeting the demographic of students that is traditionally left behind in this kind of study. I would like to thank these girls and their mentors and teachers for taking advantage of our education programs at Menokin, and for making my day!
- Find out more about our education programs and initiatives on our website.
- Be sure to check out the best deal around in summer camps: Junior Duck Stamp Camp!
- The Smithsonian Institution’s Water|Ways Exhibit is coming to Menokin for six weeks starting on July 15th. Details here.