Experimenting with Creek Engineering Models

“I think the creek covered in English Ivy looks less healthy because if there’s only one type of plant, there can’t be very many animals living there,” explained Aris, a third grade student from Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary School. Aris and his classmates learned about creek restoration engineering by comparing historic photographs of creeks to figure out what makes a creek healthy or unhealthy. Using sand box models, the students then investigated how a creek habitat can be drastically changed by human engineering techniques. One student, Hanna shared, “The concrete channel actually increased erosion and then there was no habitat left for the animals! What were people thinking?!”

Students used cardboard pieces to represent creek-side plants in their models. Aris noticed, “I saw that the creek ecosystem is most healthy and has a natural, meandering pathway when there are creek-side plants along it.” This activity taught engineering concepts using model-building and was aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.

Last fall, Aris and his classmates grew native creek-side plant cuttings in their classrooms. This spring, they will use what they learned in their engineering experiments to help restore Strawberry Creek by planting red flowering currant and other native plants along the creek to prevent erosion, create habitat for animals and increase the beauty of the environment.

Learn more about our Environmental Action Projects.

KIDS for the BAY