During the Spring and Summer of 2019, Morgan Academy, a Shepherdstown, West Virginia-based independent school, teamed up with The Downstream Project, a conservation communications and technology nonprofit, on a unique science education program. Morgan students learned how stream monitoring increases scientific understanding of ecosystem health, and document their studies using Water Reporter — a social sharing app for watersheds developed by Downstream’s strategic partner, Chesapeake Commons.
It’s part of Safe Water Harpers Ferry, a network of nonprofits, agencies, and businesses working to restore and protect Elks Run, the drinking water supply for Harpers Ferry and Bolivar.
Downstream with assistance from Erin Hofmann of Chesapeake Commons provided classroom instruction on water monitoring techniques and Water Reporter. Then the students attended a day of monitoring and posting online. Students returned three times over the year for more monitoring data.
Students then used Water Reporter to document conditions along Town Run in and around Shepherdstown. They also used the app for science journaling on the Morgan Academy campus.
The partnership was formed when Morgan Academy teacher Sara Carly-Pena brought a group of her students to a “stakeholder meeting” of various agencies and nonprofits. The group gathered to identify projects to help protect the Harpers Ferry drinking water supply by restoring Elks Run. By the end of the half-day session, Ms. Carly-Pena’s students had decided they wanted to help.
Ms. Carly-Pena and Bill Howard, executive director of The Downstream Project, developed a project that helped monitor Elks Run while contributing to the science education goals for Morgan Academy students.
The Morgan Academy Water Reporters instruction is made possible through financial support from West Virginia Rivers Coalition.