SPREE summer campers this week became water experts during Water Engineers camp! We started by learning more about what an engineer does, and what the engineering process looks like. We did an activity to figure out the typical order of the engineering steps:
1. Identify the Problem (What do we need to do? What is our goal?)
2. Brainstorm (the most important step!)3. Design (blueprint)
4. Build (may be a model/prototype at first)
5. Test and Evaluate (Then may need to go back to step 4, until it is perfect and safe and ready-to-go! Or even go back to steps 2-3)
6. Share the Solution
Monday's focus was on many different forms of River engineering. One activity was on bridges. We learned about many types of bridges and how they work. Then, we constructed our own mini river bridges with limited materials and tested them out with different weights on top. Another river engineering feat we learned about and modeled was locks and dams. We learned about how they work, looked at some real locks and dams in the creek, and made some models and tested them with some mini boats we built!
"The power of water" was the theme for Tuesday! Campers learned about the unique skills and properties that water has, as well as the power it has that people can harness for work and energy. First, campers learned about hydropower- how it is harnessed and how it works. Then, we built our own models of waterwheels and tried them out in the creek!
On Wednesday, campers learned about a different aspect of water engineering- water quality! First, we experimented with our enviroscape. An enviroscape is a model of a city that shows how pollution and runoff in cities and rural areas get into and affect waterways. Then, we made a model water filtration system using rocks, dirt, sand, and other natural materials. while not safe to drink, we got some very cool and successful results! During our daily critter crawl, we learned more about water quality through the animals that live in the creek. Did you know that different macroinvertebrates have different tolerances to pollution levels? We caught many critters and sorted them into their water-quality indicator groups. The Cherry Creek is home to many pollution sensitive groups! Another cool thing that campers got to do on Wednesday is work with a guest educator, Donny Roush, from Denver public works. He worked with the campers to do a scientific check up on the creek. Campers did different tests that help us see the health of the waterway and learned more about water quality in Denver.
Our field day took place on Thursday. The campers walked to nearby Confluence Park to investigate and play at the place where the two major waterways, the South Platte River and the Cherry Creek meet up. We played lots of games to beat the heat and looked for critters in the confluence.
Friday's focus was on the "Clean River Design Challenge." Campers were tasked with putting all of their gained water engineering skills and knowlege to the test to build miniature trash removal devices for the cherry creek. This was inspired by a competition that The Greenway Foundation hosts annualy, in which college students from several Colorado universities compete to design, build, and ultimately implement their in-stream trash removal devices. Campers were thrilled to have the CRDC event coordinator as well as a member from 2018's winning team as guest speakers for the day. They brought several models from the competition with that served as inspiration for campers' designs.
Campers did a great job learning about and experimenting with many different aspects of water engineering this week! We wrapped up our day and week with a graduation ceremony to celebrate.