Watershed Protection at Daniels Run Elementary

(Conservation Currents, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District,)

planting a rain garden“Bayscaping has become a familiar word at Daniels Run,” says Lori HubermanHayes, science technology resource teacher at Daniels Run Elementary in Fairfax City. “Bayscaping is landscaping for the health of our Chesapeake Bay watershed. Students have a unique opportunity to learn about our watershed and to physically make a difference.”

HubermanHayes, a former classroom teacher with a master’s degree in instructional technology, came to Daniels Run four years ago to lead the science technology program. Two years ago she teamed up with EcoStewards Alliance to create a unique environmental curriculum for each grade level.

Jeanette Stewart, director of education for EcoStewards, explains that the program is a unique blend of classroom materials and experienced-based learning. “Not only do they study such topics as biodiversity, hydrology, and sustainability, they actually help to create a healthier watershed,” she says.

This fall, the third and fourth graders are learning about stormwater, pollution, and erosion. They are helping to construct a rain garden at the bottom of a steep slope, which should reduce flooding and sedimentation of the sidewalk and nearby playground, and most importantly, the Daniels Run stream located behind the school. The conservation district helped design the rain garden. The rest of the slope was cleared of turf grass, and the students planted a variety of sturdy native grasses that will do a better job of absorbing runoff, holding the soil in place, and providing habitat.

Sixth grade students also are participating in the project by analyzing Chesapeake Bay maps and news articles. They will use Probeware to do water testing in the stream and computers to graph the results, tracking the stream’s changes over time.

Grants that support the environmental projects came from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Environmental Endowment, Spring Creek Foundation, and Virginia Naturally.

HubermanHayes also is eager to show off the courtyard garden that has planting space for all of the students. For example, Kindergartners learn about pumpkins and plant pumpkin seeds in the garden. When these students are in first grade, HubermanHayes has them use a digital microscope to examine the seeds from their harvested pumpkins. Roasted seeds then become snack material.

To learn more, call Jeanette Stewart at 703-204-0841 or Lori HubermanHayes at 703-279-8485.

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