A number of years ago, Lands and Waters created a program called “Follow the Water”. The program has been successfully presented in elementary and middle schools. This year, with the generous support of Fairfax Water, Lands and Waters is piloting a more sophisticated version of the program at Fairfax High School. Over one hundred students in the AP Environmental Studies Program are participating, with Bradley Webster as the host teacher.
Lands and Waters has brought together local experts to lead classroom lectures accompanied by field labs. Please follow us over this school year, as students investigate aspects of watershed health and human impact.
Classroom instruction is kept to a minimum, in order to maximize outdoor field studies.
Dan Schwartz, Soil Scientist, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, presents a brief in-class introduction to soils.
A student helps auger a core soil sample. This sample will enable students to investigate the soil structure, and texture as well as disturbances associated with construction.
A student helps secure a pipe to perform a perk test. Analysis of the perk test will enable students to evaluate the permeability of their campus soil.
Water is then poured into the secured pipe.
Over the next twenty-four hours water levels are measured and recorded in order to evaluate the permeability of the soil. The results of this test indicate that the turf fields on campus are almost impervious with 85% of the rain water running off, and only 15% absorbed or evaporated. In contrast forest soil produces only 10% runoff, with 85% absorbed or evaporated.
Students walk to a nearby intermittent stream to investigate a different type of soil and the depth of the water table.
The soil this student is holding exemplifies a wetland type soil, grey in color.
As this student found out, wetland soil is not only grey in color, it has a distinctively unpleasant odor.
Everyone experienced first hand just how wet and mucky anaerobic soil can be.
It was a great first step into our advanced “Follow the Water” Program. Naturally, we began with a foundation – the soil.
Thank you Dan Schwartz with Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation.