Walt Whitman Loves MWEE

Children get hands-on with nature.

Erosion in a stream valley

Normally our blogs are written by someone who works for or with the Fairfax County Park Authority. Not this one.

This one was written by students of Walt Whitman Middle School after their Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) along South Run Stream Valley this spring. MWEE is a regular part of the fourth and seventh-grade curriculum in Fairfax County Public Schools.

We bet by the time you reach the end, you’ll learn things you didn’t know. Here are excerpts from thank you notes written by students of science teacher Chris Andersen and their chaperones after their adventure:

“I learned new things about trees and invasive species. I found it interesting how cold water to us is considered hot water to the fishes.”

“One thing I’d like to do in the future is study the watershed further. I am very interested in watershed science now. Thanks to this field trip, I have growing interests in the world’s watershed and other science.”

“Because of the trip I was taught to appreciate the watersheds since they contain our water supply.”

“Because of the trip I’m interested in becoming a naturalist because naturalists go outside, work with animals, and study watersheds.”

“I definitely understand how much we affect how clean or dirty the water is. It changes my perspective drastically; I want my earth to be clean.”

Fish“I also learned that cold water is too hot for fish, which really surprised me. If the water is hot, then fish could easily die due to the lack of dissolved oxygen…Science is really interesting.”

“The thing I found interesting is that we have one of the cleanest water [supplies].”

“I love science now. Thank you.”

“I would like to water monitor in the future as a volunteer. The water really interested me.”

“I liked how we got to go around the whole park and see different things and we could touch things. I learned that the water from the river/creek was the water we drink.”

“During the trip I learned about macroorganisms. I never knew there were so many different types. I want to learn about the importance of the macroorganisms in their ecosystem.”

“I’m glad that I now know what poison ivy looks like so I can avoid it. I never knew that honeysuckle was an invasive species.”

“I really enjoyed going into the water and searching for living things. One thing I will now do in the future is take time out of my week and or day to clean up my neighborhood. I loved going on this field trip!”

“We got to search for little bugs in the tributary. I also learned a lot like a water penny is sensitive to the water…that the water was really good…and that a watershed is an area of land that water flows down.”

“I really enjoyed when we got to play games and learned about how to improve our school’s habits to keep the watershed clean.”

“I really liked the hands on experience…especially when we learned about all the critters in the stream and how they tell us the quality of the water. In the future I would like to spend more time at the biology station.”

“This field trip really helped me with the concept of watersheds. I would definitely come here with my family in the future. I appreciate that you guys are spreading the word about our world. Science rocks.”

“I learned that a mayfly can’t survive if there is pollution in the water.”

“After going in the woods, I understand that we need to keep our plant safe, or else it could die, and so could we.”

“I LOVE science. I want to become a scientist.”

“I learned that fish like to swim and live in the dark part of the water because it is colder.”

“That baby snakes could be as small as a worm-that was really interesting.”

“I learned that poison ivy has a type of coating around it that’s like oil, so it gets into your pores which is what causes the rash.”

“I appreciate that I have clean water.”

“I learned that trash gets into the water by waterflow pushing it into the streams, rivers and oceans…Now I appreciate that I should keep my water clean, and those who do that for me.”

“I think it was interesting to learn that certain bugs/animals in the river can show us if the water is polluted…I think that it’s also interesting to learn about all the invasive species of plants like the honeysuckle. I know now that I shouldn’t bring invasive species of plants out of the park and to take care of the forest and wildlife.”

“I understand how pH works better.”

“I know more about the watershed. Something that I want to do in the future is to find the animals in the water.”

“I liked how we went looking for organisms and we saw them. It was pretty cool.”

“I learned that most of all of the states were farmland and then it got turned all to houses.”

“I learned that clams are like the “vacuums” of the water.”

“I thought the fact that poison ivy looks like plastic was cool.”

“Something I understand better now is how a smaller watershed goes into a bigger watershed.”

“I learned that you can play outside for a living.”

MultifloraRose2“What I found interesting on the trip was that there are native and invasive species. Something I understand better is pH [and} that the water quality is good. Something that I now appreciate more is wildlife and plant life. They are what us humans need to survive. Something I’d like to do in the future is…go back to South Run Park. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.”

“Because of the trip, I’m interested in becoming a naturalist, because naturalists can go outside, work with animals and study watersheds. I really liked this trip.”

“I had a blast! My favorite thing about the forest…were the hipster trees. I would like to go again in the future and go deeper into the woods. There was so much life and I want to observe it more to better understand nature. I hope we could do it again!”

“It would be cool to be a naturalist someday.”

“Something new that I learned is that shade makes the water colder.”

“What I found interesting was that there were lots of organisms in the water. What I’d like to do in the future is to reduce the amount of waste in waters to save wildlife…I had a blast that day.”

“I learned that biodiversity means different kinds of life.”

“I would like to say thank you. I loved the place…I also wanted to thank the dude that presented erosion, because he saved my life by grabbing me so that I couldn’t fall into the water. Overall, I had the best time ever over at South Run Park.”

“Thank you for showing us around the forest…teaching me about different organisms and different plants and how erosion works. Thanks for also showing us about the watersheds…and for letting us do experiments.”

“Thank you for helping me get closer to nature.”

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 11 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2008. Another Park Bond Referendum will be held in November 2012. Today, the Park Authority has 420 parks on approximately 23,168 acres of land. We offer 371 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park System is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: o Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist. o Eight golf courses including Laurel Hill, our newest, upscale course and clubhouse located in Southern Fairfax County o Five nature and visitor centers. Also seven Off-Leash Dog Activity areas o Several lakes including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax o The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter o Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel o An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter o Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel o Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent o A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly o A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale o Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community o Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center o Provides 274 athletic fields, including 30 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 500 school athletic fields PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: • A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. %

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