2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 294-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


CESSNA, Gretchen A., BYER, Lillian I.J. and GOOD, Kerinna J., Science Department, Eastern Mennonite High School, 801 Parkwood Dr., Harrisonburg, VA 22802, cessnag@emhs.net

The City of Harrisonburg, Virginia’s new stormwater utility fee has provided the opportunity for a learning experience aligned with the NGSS on multiple levels: 1. A complex real-world problem provides the context. 2. Computational thinking and interpretation of geospatial data are required to solve the problem. 3. Interaction with scientists and communicating the science to the public are an integral part of the project. To set the context for the project, Eastern Mennonite High School (EMHS) students met with the City of Harrisonburg’s stormwater coordinator to learn about the rationale for the stormwater utility fee and how the fee will be calculated. Students then used ArcGIS for iPad to calculate the total impervious surface area on the EMHS campus and determine the yearly stormwater utility fee. Initial comparison with the City of Harrisonburg’s impervious surface website map revealed a large error on the city site, and led to interesting discussions. The city quickly corrected the error and student results were within 4.6% of the corrected city results. As a final assessment for the stormwater stewardship unit students produced a brochure or video designed to educate community members about the stormwater utility fee. Engaging in a real-world on-campus problem with environmental and financial implications led to deeper student engagement and fulfillment of NGSS goals such as development of data analysis and communication skills and understanding of the role of geoscience in designing solutions to societal problems.