• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 12:45 PM


CAMPBELL, Karen, National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota, 2 Third Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414,

The National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED), a National Science Foundation funded Science and Technology Center, pursues its goal of predictive Earth-surface science by integrating physical, biological, and social sciences to understand how landscapes and ecosystems evolve together. Our research approach uses the power of scaling to move from field-scale investigations to physical experiments to predictive mathematical models. We find this approach to be very transferable to education, across a spectrum from elementary classrooms to large public gatherings. We use simple inexpensive table top stream tables, commercially available tables, custom tables that tell the story of specific dam removals, a 25 foot long modular flume that can travel aboard a flat bed truck, and a portable touch screen museum exhibit nicknamed “Rain Table”, to teach the coupled physical, biological and social dynamics of rivers and their landscapes, from source to sink. With each of these tools, we focus on methods for teaching predictive quantifiable approaches to understanding the behavior of rivers.

A particular focus of our work lies in deltas--their formation and sustainability in coastal settings and their management in the case of reservoir deltas behind dams. Our vertical “Delta box” enables sophisticated modeling of subsurface delta architecture, while our Elwha models, developed in cooperation with the Science Museum of Minnesota, allow students to recreate laboratory research that guided the 2011 removal of the Glines Canyon Dam on Washington’s Elwha River. Another custom tabletop model lets students recreate research that guided removal of the Marmot Dam on the Sandy River in Oregon, a unique dam removal that is documented by a National Geographic film that features model studies as well as footage of the river itself and the aftermath of dam removal.

This session will feature several of our smaller flumes, providing opportunities to experience these powerful teaching tools “hands-on”. Example lesson plans for using flumes in the classroom will be presented, as will plans for building some of the simpler flumes for your own use in K-12 to college classrooms.

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