Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administrative offices are open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Mon - Fri

703-324-5500
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 449, Fairfax, Va 22035

Shannon Curtis,
Chief, Watershed Assessment Branch

Watershed Education and Outreach

Fairfax County ecologists provide free high-quality, innovative educational programs and teaching tools to audiences ranging from K-12. 

Educational Programs

Educational Programs

Revitalize, Restore, Replant!

Ages: Grades 4-12. Program Length: 40 minutes per class.

The Revitalize, Restore, Replant! (R3) program transforms existing stormwater facilities (like bioretentions and dry ponds or yard inlets) on Fairfax County Public School FCPS campuses into outdoor classrooms. At no cost to schools, county ecologists introduce students to stormwater and watershed ecosystem management and lead a hands-on native plant installation. Plant species are chosen to complement existing programs of study, allowing plantings to be used as outdoor teaching tools for all grade levels. Fairfax County provides native plants, plant ID signs, and all other necessary materials for this event.

Due to the popularity of this program, the earliest available slot for R3 plantings may be a year or two out. For more information, take a look at the R3 - What to Expect document.

Stream Crime Investigation Lab

Ages: High School. Program Length: 90 minute lab.

In the Stream Crime Investigation (SCI) Lab, students join a stream crime prevention unit to track and stop common pollutants from entering our waterways. This lab couples the informative nature of presentations with the hands-on experience of lab exercises, illustrating the connection between residents’ behaviors on land and their impact on local waters. SCI lab materials are available for free for other jurisdictions.

Live! Stream Critter Lab - white box

Live! Stream Critter LabAges: High School. Program Length: 45 minutes.

Program availability contingent on season and weather. Students learn how to identify live stream organisms using a key and how to determine the health of a stream based on the critters they find. While some critters can tolerate pollution, others need clean water to survive. Based on the number of sensitive, moderate and tolerant organisms in the sample, students give their stream a grade. Will your stream be an A+ or an F? The school is responsible for finding an appropriate stream site for the event.

Alternatively, staff are available to "stream from a stream" where students participate virtually in a stream monitoring event.

Stream Critter Cube Lab

Stream Critter Cube LabAges: Grades 4-12. Program Length: 40 minutes.

Students learn how to identify different stream organisms using a stream critter cube and a key to determine the health of a stream. While some critters can tolerate pollution, others need clean water to survive. Based on the number of sensitive, moderate, and tolerant organisms in the sample, students give their stream a grade. Will your stream be an A+ or an F? This program is a good alternative to the Live! Stream Critter Lab for younger students or when the weather does not permit students to travel to a stream.

The At Home Stream Critter Cube Lab allows students to monitor local streams without leaving the house!

Geomorphology Lab

Geomorphology LabAges: High School. Program Length: 45 minutes.

Fluvial geomorphology is the study of the form and function of streams and their interaction with the surrounding landscape. In this lab, students will learn about physical characteristics of streams, how they can change over time, and how they are monitored. This lab can be held outdoors at a stream or in your classroom. It can also be paired with the Stream Critter Lab for a full 90-minute lab.

Create a Caddisfly

Ages: Elementary School. Program Length: 30 minutes.

This activity combines art and science to explore the life of one of our local stream insects – the caddisfly! In this activity, students learn about caddisflies, the houses they make, and how they relate to stream health. Students then make their own caddisfly and house out of craft supplies.

The Create a Caddisfly program is a great STEM or STEAM night activity and fulfills requirements for the Bug Badge (Girl Scouts) or the Insect Study (Boy Scouts).

Create your own caddisfly whenever you want with the Create a Caddisfly At Home instructions!

What's A Food Web?

Three students at a table study a food web diagramAges: Elementary School. Program Length: 40 minutes.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when trying to teach food webs. In this program, students learn about producers, consumers, and decomposers in the Chesapeake Bay.  In the interactive portion of the program, students become part of the food web and learn how each species plays an integral role in our environment and what happens when human interactions throw off a balanced ecosystem.

Meet An Ecologist

Laptop displaying SkypeOur team of freshwater ecologists are available to virtually present to your students. Staff are available to discuss a wide range of topics, including watersheds, assessing the health of our streams and lakes, Chesapeake Bay, food webs, stormwater management, influences of human activity on ecosystems, science fair projects, and more! For large classes, it is helpful to send a list of questions ahead of time.

Educational Tools

Educational Tools

Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for?

We can still help! For questions on opportunities not listed, or if you would like to check staff availability for a program, please email the Watershed Education and Outreach team or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant