The Potomac Highlands Watershed School 

PHWS Projects 2013

Wildwood Middle School, WV

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Wildwood Middle School, Shenandoah Junction, WV

April 2013

Lead Teacher, Caroline Moffat, engaged her 7th grade honors science class in planning and installing a 135 square foot rain garden and planting 3 trees on the school grounds. The students planted 73 native plants in the rain garden and 3 trees outside of the garden.

CI's Outreach Coordinator, Molly Barkman, delivered educational lessons on watersheds and non-point source pollution. Students learned that polluted waterways start on the land and practices upstream. Students investigated the effects of extra nutrients being introduced to streams and the harmful effects it creates in the aquatic food chain.

On a chilly spring day students surveyed a location at the school where a rain garden would be both a beautification project along with a functional project for the school grounds. Students were able to identify the stormwater runoff pollution traveling from the visitorís parking lot into a depressed grassy area that had a storm drain. The students knew that the drain was leading to a nearby stream.
The idea developed to capture the water before it could enter the storm drain. The area was soggy from a recent rain. Adding a rain garden and some trees would be able to decrease the standing water in the area. On Earth Day CI staff, Molly Barkman and Frank Rodgers prepared the location for planting. The rain garden was measured, outlined and tilling began.  Sand was added to the soil to help increase the porosity allowing more water to infiltrate the ground. 
On April 26 one class of students began the project. The students self-designated working on the rain garden and the tree planting. Students working in the rain garden started by distributing the plants according to the planting map to ensure the plants correct location in the rain garden.  The students observed a planting demo given by Molly Barkman and began planting half of the plants in the garden. Students planting the trees began by digging the holes for the trees to be placed in. Frank Rodgers, Executive Director, worked with the students to ensure the holes were the correct depth and width. The students received a planting demo to ensure the tree is at the proper depth, a very important step for survival.
After the classes changed, the second period class worked to finish the planting in the rain garden and the remaining tree. These students also worked to mulch the rain garden area, the new trees, and some surrounding trees already on campus.
At the end of the day students were able to get their hands dirty and have a great learning experience outside. The trees will work to capture the extra water entering the depressed area decreasing the soggy ground in that area.
The students played a key role in decreasing the about of stormwater runoff pollution entering the stream while adding a visually appealing garden to the front of the school for visitors to enjoy.