This week, the campers went on a journey- a journey of the South Platte River!
On Monday, campers started in the mountains, learning about where and how the South Platte begins. We made our own mini mountain models and discovered how snow melt forms into creeks, streams, and eventually rivers. And, we learned about how Colorado is the headwaters state, and that all of the water in Colorado flows out into other states.
We built miniature watershed models demonstrating how water gets to Denver through the transmountain diversion and how it is then distributed and used throughout the city.
On Friday we zoomed in ever further on the South Platte. We caught, looked at, and learned about macroinvertebrates such as crawdads, clams, and dragonfly nymphs. Our kid experts even got the share their “aquarium” with some passersby on the trail and got to teach others about some fun critter facts! In another activity, campers also loved acting out the lives of animals with exoskeletons- like crawdads! Then, we got to look at some microscopic life, too! We used microscopes to look at and learn about some of the tiniest critters and particles that are in the river water. We especially liked learning about tardigrades, or water bears. They are tiny, near indestructible microscopic creatures that have many cool adaptations that allow them to survive in a wide variety of environments- even space!
Next, we did some scientific tests to give the river a “check up.” We tested the dissolved oxygen levels, pH, turbidity (clarity of the water), and took its temperature. With these test results, combined with the pollution intolerant critters we found, we were able to determine that the River is pretty healthy!
Finally, after a week of learning about the South Platte’s journey, the expert campers had a graduation ceremony!