Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Satellite images of lakes and reservoirs help second graders understand the value of water

Second graders in the Indian Paintbrush Elementary School (IPES) saw how satellites collect data about Earth from space and how those data are used for monitoring water bodies such as lakes and reservoirs around the world.

Students are learning about water (part of the second grade core curriculum standard) and its importance to humans, other living beings, and environment. With the help of historical and present satellite images, students were able to visualize the impact of a) diverting water from rivers made a sea disappear (Aral Sea), b) precipitation and drought on reservoirs in Wyoming, and c) runoff from crop fields and other effluents in Lake Erie and Gulf of Mexico. Students were able to see how human actions, small and big, influences water quantity and quality.

Describing the value of these images, Genee Witte, one of the second grade teachers in IPES, said, “It was very exciting and extremely helpful for the second graders to see the images ...  It helped build their background knowledge of the changes the lakes, etc. undergo. … The images of the disappearing sea and the images of the effect that pollution has on the water and us made us all take a moment to think about how we can make a difference.  … Having the images shown to the students helps them to retain the information!  They are able to keep that image in their mind and add to their background knowledge.

Julie Howard, another second grade teacher, was able to talk “about the map of the Great Lakes.  Some of them had just read a story about Paul Bunyan and how he formed these lakes. This then lead to a discussion of where water came from to fill these lakes and then looking at a map to follow the Mississippi River. We discussed how and where water flows by referring to maps.” Stacy Hoffer, who teaches the third section of second graders, commented the images were “very informative and my students enjoyed it. The presentation on water created more discussion in my classroom.

Changes occurring in the Aral Sea captivated the minds of most students. Student teacher Shawna Black commented “ [T]he students have continued to talk about the magically disappearing act of the Aral Sea, and have asked if we can look at more pictures of bodies of water to see if it affects other places since you showed us the amazing satellite images.”

Students wrote about what they learned from these talks and their responses are summarized in the following word cloud:


Sivanpillai visited these classrooms on April 1, 2 and 15, 2015, as part of the WyomingView’s Earth Observation Day (EOD) and Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology & Geology (WyCEHG)’s K-12 outreach activities.

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