World Wetlands Day 2008 -- USA


World Wetlands Day - February 2, 2008
Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People

Discovery Center at Murfree Spring
502 Southeast Broad Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37130 USA
Bonnie Ervin
Curriculum Coordinator

The event was staged for the walk-in guests of Discovery Center, a children's hands-on museum. Posters were displayed around the museum and announcements were made on the intercom system every hour. The activities began at 10:00 and lasted until 3:00 pm.

Since Discovery Center is located on a natural wetlands, two walks were conducted during the day (12:00 noon and 2:30). A total of 49 guests (27 adults and 22 children) participated throughout the day, 10 volunteers from a college helped, and the activities were coordinated by one museum staff member (volunteering the time.)

Activities shared with walk-in guests of the museum:

Pollution - Take it or Leave It (Healthy Water, Healthy People pg 21) Adults or older children recorded the stations as the "drop of water" traveled through the water cycle. Beads of pollution were collected in a cup at various stations, and relinquished at others. Children created bead bracelets after the activity to remind them that water travels around the world and that water quality is affected by the serendipitous path water takes.

There is No Point to This Pollution (Healthy Water, Healthy People pg 136) The table was covered with a paper and crayons were used for participants to draw their houses on the paper. "WET Lake" was located at the end of the table and was the receptacle of the runoff from their property. The set was compared to the Murfree Spring Wetland with its 3 stormwater drain outlets. Many of the adults were unaware that stormwater is not treated and runs into the local river/ watershed that provides drinking water for the city.

Wetland in a Pan (WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands pg 212) Using a paint roller pan, clay, sponges, and carpet remnants, participants created a clay landscape on the upper end of the pan. The lower end of the pan received the water runoff. Dirty water was poured down the slope - land with little to no vegetation groundcover. The debris ended in the lower end of the pan. Participants simulated a wetland ecosystem by adding carpet or sponges between the clay landscape and the lower end of the pan. Dirty water was again poured down the slope - with most of the debris and some of the water becoming trapped in the "wetland". The message: wetlands filter water, reduce water runoff, absorb great quantities of water which is slowly released. Children loved playing in the water and squeezing the sponges.

Create your own turtle ( from the CD) Children and adults were very proud of their created turtles.

Wash It Away! (Healthy Water, Healthy People pg 121) Greeting the participants was a volunteer whose hands had been "treated" with glitter. Participants discovered they had been infected with the glitter and were coached on a water-reducing method of washing their hands. (Wet hands, turn off water while lathering and scrubbing the hands, turn water back on to wash away the soap and germs. They were further coached that reducing paper towel usage was equivalent to reducing their "hidden water usage", since so much water is needed to produce paper towels.

Let the Cattail out of the Bag! (WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands pg 78) A paper bag was filled with artifacts of life from the wetland (raccoon skin, snake shed/skin, bird's nest, cattail stalk with seed head, mussel shell, toy frog). The participant extracted an article from the bag (without looking) and discussion followed about its place within the wetland ecosystem.

A-maze-ing Water (Project WET pg 219) Participants used modeling clay to create street patterns on a waterproof board. Pollution was sprinkled onto the board (sugar, salt, food coloring, oil, chocolate powder, pepper, etc.). A stormwater event was staged (water dropped onto the tilted board via eyedroppers), and the runoff collected into a "storm water drain" (bowl of water). Impact of pollutants (fertilizers, motor oil, litter, pesticides, animal wastes) on receiving waters was discussed.

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