We all live in the San Francisco Bay Watershed!

By Sienna Kuykendall, Program Manager

“Is there really a shed in your backyard that’s full of water?!” KIDS for the BAY Instructor, Sienna Kuykendall, asked students at Manzanita Community School.  “No!” exclaimed the students. Mr. Wallace’s third grade class was learning about the San Francisco Bay watershed, the complex and layered environment that they live in, but most students hadn’t ever heard the word ‘watershed’ before this lesson.

Students were captivated by the Watershed Poster and the satellite map of the San Francisco Bay, that Ms. Sienna shared with them. They eagerly began to search for the various features of a watershed and to discover how everything is connected, including the mountains and rivers. When Ms. Sienna explained that Manzanita Elementary School is in the Sausal Creek watershed, many hands shot up to share that they had visited this creek at Dimond Park nearby with their families. Student Yasmin added, “I didn’t know that Sausal Creek went to the bay and then the ocean!”

Ms. Sienna led her students to explore the compound word, “watershed,” which includes helpful clues about what a watershed really is. Yasmin took a risk and offered, “I think it’s how water flows and is connected.” Her classmate Chloe added, “It rains and rain goes into the creeks and the bay. This is part of the water cycle and the watershed!”

Young environmentalists poured over San Francisco Bay satellite maps to complete a scavenger hunt for rivers, bays, bridges, cities and more! Students in each group excitedly beckoned for Ms. Sienna each time they located something new, proud to share what they had discovered. Mileke and Gabriel exclaimed, “We found all seven bridges!” Charlie and Roselene shared, “We found Oakland and our school!” 

Students also created their very own Bay Model! They wanted to see how salt and fresh water interact in the bay and molded an outline of the bay with clay. After molding the shoreline, bridges and islands with clay, students added bay organisms like crabs, fish and sharks to their model. Once their habitat was all set up, the eager scientists poured dark blue salt water into the Pacific Ocean and rained clear fresh water over the delta. Madelyn exclaimed, “The waters are mixing in the middle of the bay! I can tell because the two waters swirled together here and turned light blue!” 

When reviewing the map scavenger hunt and the Bay Model activities, Ms. Sienna encouraged each table group to be brave scientists and share what they had discovered with the whole class. Each table group came up to the front of the class and proudly pointed out cities, bridges, bodies of water and islands. Students were amazed to see how large the San Francisco Bay watershed is. They had so much fun figuring out what a watershed is and finding their place in their own watershed!

KIDS for the BAY