Restoring Strawberry Creek with UC Berkeley

DSC_0076“My favorite part of KIDS for the BAY is how you make science fun!” Miykha and her fellow students from Berkeley Arts Magnet and Rosa Parks Elementary Schools had a lot of fun investigating and restoring Strawberry Creek with KIDS for the BAY, UC Berkeley Student Interns, and the Strawberry Creek Restoration Project.

“I’m proud that Gemma and I picked up 171 pieces of trash, because that is 171 fewer pieces of trash in the San Francisco Bay watershed, our home.”

— Charlie, Third Grade Student, Berkeley Arts Magnet School

DSC_0224The third graders first became stewards for their local environmental during their clean-up projects. They were very proud of their efforts to clean up garbage from their school campuses and from Strawberry Creek. Some students took their efforts a step further by creating informational posters about reducing litter to share with their first grade buddies. Alvin and Salma drew a dolphin with plastic garbage around its neck. Alvin explained, “This poster might convince a first grader to never drop plastic on the ground.”

In their creek restoration-engineering lesson, students created mini-creeks with water and sand and investigated how factors such as concrete channels and creek-side plants affect erosion. After the activity, students recommended weeding out invasive English ivy, which has shallow roots that do not hold the soil in place, and planting native plants such as red flowering currants, to control erosion along the banks of Strawberry Creek.

“By incorporating students into campus restoration efforts, we are increasing the number of plants we are able to plant and the amount of trash we can pick up. Seeing school students improve the health of their local ecosystems has been a highlight of my time at UC Berkeley!”

— Dylan Chapple, UC Berkeley PhD Candidate

Students were excited to meet their red flowering currant plants in the fall, transplant them into larger pots and care for them in their classrooms until it was time to plant them beside Strawberry Creek. Luna whispered encouragingly to her plant, “See you in a little while when we go to Strawberry Creek together!”

DSC_0093In January, the school students helped to restore Strawberry Creek on UC Berkeley’s campus. This Environmental Action Project had four stations: planting the red flowering currant plants, weeding out invasive English ivy to make more space for native plants to grow, painting colorful signs to mark the planting projects, and cleaning up trash around the creek.

Students and teachers are now looking forward to their spring Field Trips, when they will return to Strawberry Creek to check on the progress of their plants and engage in hands-on science activities, including studying aquatic invertebrates and water quality testing.

This unique partnership between KIDS for the BAY, UC Berkeley and local Berkeley schools was partly funded by the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund and the East Bay Community Foundation Meyer’s Fund.