Learning never ends at the metro children’s water festival

(September 26, 2012) Over 290 Anoka County students attended the 15th annual Metro Children’s Water Festival.  The students attended a number of presentations learning many important lessons PLUS the most important lesson – we are all learning, everyday.  Learning stations at the Festival (Met Council YouTube) include:

  • WaterWater is constantly in motion all around us, rising up into the sky through evaporation from rivers and oceans, and then falling back to Earth as rain or snow. Plants play a major role in the water cycle, drawing water from the soil and releasing it into the air through their leaves. One acre of broad-leafed forest may release as much as 8,000 gallons of water into the atmosphere every day.  (Lukas Johnson, Science Museum of Minnesota, school outreach@smm.org)
  • Singing Rivers: CLEAN IT UP is the refrain for The River Cleanup Boogie – I went down to the river.  To catch me some fish.  But the mud in the water made my kids go “ish!”  I told them not to worry.  It’s been like that awhile when I said let’s clean it up and they began to smile LET’S CLEAN IT UP! (Scott Sparlin, yasure@lycos.com)
  • Well Well Well: It’s not just “dirt” below us.  There are many very different formations of sand and stone (see the Virtual Egg Carton of major rock types).  We stand on a huge geologic layer cake.  Some layers (like sand, gravel, sandstone and limestone) are hydraulically permeable (called aquifers) allowing water to supply a well.  Other layers (like clay, shale, granite and slate) restrict water movement.  In some areas of the country, wells produce crude oil or natural gas.  My my my, there’s a lot more below us than just dirt. (Gary Meyer, Minnesota Geologic Survey, meyer015@umn.edu) ‎
  • The Mystery of the Disappearing Waterfall: A great waterfall moved from Saint Paul to Minneapolis and set the stage for two cities to be born.  Rivers are the reason we are here in the twin cities.  The waterfall, that started 12,000 years ago in St. Paul, was huge and could swallow half of the city.  Now, it’s the gentle Saint Anthony waterfall in Minneapolis.  (Lyndon Torstenson, National Park Service, lyndon_torstenson@nps.gov)
  • The House that Jack Built: Our drinking water comes from a local source.  Either a well or the Mississippi River.  It gets to your faucet by constructing a well or water system and installing plumbing and fixtures to keep the water clean and safe to drink.  (Richard Thron, Mantyla Well Drilling, richardthron@yahoo.com)
  • FLUSH – The Wastewater Story:  Wastewater must be cleaned up before reaching rivers, lakes and groundwater.  A home septic system or treatment plant uses physical and natural processes to remove bacteria and human wastes.  However natural processes will not remove household and industrial chemicals that are not found in nature.  Homes may dispose of waste chemicals safely by dropping them off at a household hazardous waste facility.  Businesses properly must dispose of their chemicals according to law.  (Patti Craddock, Central States Water Environment Association, pcraddock@sehinc.com)
  • Streams and Wetlands: The forces of water have a powerful effect on our environment.  Water is always moving to keep our environment in balance.  Streams carry stormwater from saturated/flooded areas.  Wetlands perform  important functions to store water, control flooding, clean stormwater, and provide habitat for waterfowl and reptiles. (Nanette Geroux, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, nanette.geroux@metc.state.mn.us)
  • Just Passing Through: Vegetation helps to keep rain water clean by capturing soil particles carried by stormwater.  The roots of plants can absorb pollution keeping it from reaching water resources like lakes, rivers and groundwater.  Water is always “just passing through” but plants help to keep it clean.  (Linda Radimecky, MN Dept. of Natural Resources, linda.radimecky@state.mn.us)
  • The Water Beneath our Feet: In the “slice of earth” we learned that water collects in open spaces between sand grains.  Gravity makes water moves down and through sand, gravel and sandstone that are found in layers (called aquifers) providing water to wells.  Water is the “universal solvent” that will dissolves and mix with practically any chemical resulting in “water pollution.”   The trick is to keep water and potential pollutants from getting together. (Katie Wigen, Washington Conservation District, kwigen@mnwcd.org)
  • A Model Stream: Water doesn’t just flow down a stream channel.  Water is the reason there is a stream channel! And, a flowing river, creek or stream has the power to alter the channel.  For more information check out River Model Clips or Healthy Rivers.  (Brooke Asleson, MN Pollution Control Agency, brooke.asleson@state.mn.us)
  • Macro Madness: We all need water to survive, to drink.  Aquatic insects need clean natural water too.  Using benthic macroinvertebrates (water insects) we can tell the health of a creek, stream or river.  Sensitive invertebrates (like Stonefly Nymph, Mayfly Nimph, and Caddisfly Larvae) found in a stream indicates the quality of the water is good.  (Maggie Karschnia, MN Wetland Health Evaluation Program, msdarschnia@gmail.com)
  • Water Quality – Is Your Understanding Crystal Clear?:  Samples from different water bodies have very different qualities.  A lake is a standing body of water the permits sediment to settle to the bottom and temperature (thermal) layers and established in the water.  Water flowing in a river or creek is constantly on the move having very different characteristics.  (Laurie Sovell, MN Pollution Control Agency, Laurie.Sovell@state.mn.us)
  • How Do Fish Get Mercury?: Like water, mercury can evaporate becoming airborne.  The mercury contaminates rain falling into lakes and rivers.  Fish become contaminated with methylmercury by eating food (plankton and smaller fish) that builds up in their flesh. Fish that eat other fish become even more highly contaminated. Thus, the fish most desirable for many anglers (bass, walleye and northern pike) are the most affected.  (Bruce Monson, MN Pollution Control Agency, Bruce.Monson@state.mn.us)
  • Adopt A River Crime Lab: Trash on land and trash on the river.  The Story of Peanut (the turtle with a peanut shaped shell) is an example of the effects of carelessly disposing trash in the Mississippi River.  (Paul Nordell, MN Dept. of Natural Resouces, paul.nordell@state.mn.us)
  • Watch it Rain!: Erosion is serious problem for both cropland and water quality.  Rain carries soil particles from bare land into ditches, lake and creeks.  Using conservation practices we learned how to manage our land and protect water resouces.  (Mark Zumwinkel, MN Dept. of Agriculture, mark.zumwinkle@state.mn.us)
  • Water Pollution on Trial: Environmental regulations set water quality standards and limits pollution discharged from businesses.  There is a variety of enforcement options to stop pollution and clean up polluted water normally with the cooperation of the business or institution.  When there isn’t cooperation then there may be a trial.    (Joshua Berman, MN Pollution Control Agency, joshua.burman@state.mn.us)
  • Buzzzz…Mosquitos!: When it comes to mosquitoes everyone has an opinion.  Separating opinion from fact is what science education is all about. Mosquitos belong to the Culex order that (like all flies) go through four stages of life: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  Female mosquitos hunt for blood by detecting carbon dioxide and octenol emitted in the breath and sweat of warm-blooded animals, including us.  (Mike McLean, Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, mmclean@mmcd.org)

The next Metro Area Children’s Water Festival is scheduled for Sept. 25, 2013.  Registration for the lottery drawing will open on February 1, 2013 and close on March 31th.  For more information contact Bart Biernat at Anoka County Environmental Services (763-422-6985, Bart.Biernat@co.anoka.mn.us).

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