Back in March, Madison brought home an announcement about the Brandywine Valley Association doing their “Red Stream Blue” program for the fourth-graders at her school, and they were looking for some parents to volunteer their time for the day.
If you have been following my photographic work at all, you’ll know that I have preference for running water, and I have been to a variety of places in Chester County, so this seemed like a fun opportunity to get to know the local environment a little bit more.
At 9 am on April 3rd, we gathered in the faculty lounge at Uwchlan Hills Elementary School for the morning training session.
We had a delightful instructor by the name of Connie Shapiro, who walked us through the eight stations that we would be presenting to the children later in the day.
During the program, parents and students are taught about the cycle of water as it falls from the sky, lands on our roofs, lawns, driveways and street, then is channeled into gutters or streams, and into the creeks, through water treatment plants in local townships, and finally into the Atlantic Ocean.
Connie cheerfully explained each stage of the water cycle, and answered questions as we prepared for the afternoon presentations.
After the initial morning training, we then got to choose which stations we wish to work at, and I selected Station 4 Macro-invertebrate Mayhem!
This was the station with all the bugs or should I say larvae, nymphs, snails and worms.
The good stuff!
After lunch, we set up the eight stations in the fourth grade pod, and fine tuned what we were going to say when the kids during our 10-12 minute presentations.
To say I was nervous was an understatement, and thankfully I was joined by Eileen Hazard from the Brandywine Valley Association (BVA), as she brought in another bucket full of critters she had collected on her way to the school!
Finally it was time to begin.
In the main meeting area, with all the teachers, students, volunteers and BVA folks, Connie started in, and captured the interest of a room full of fourth graders quickly. Robert Struble, Jr. gave a short little introduction to the program, just before Principle Giering was partially mummified to illustrate how much water our bodies contain.
At the conclusion, Eileen and I rushed back to our station, and made the final preparations.
I asked Eileen, if she could please demonstrate first, because I was not sure what to say in such a limited amount of time. Each group was with us for only about 10-12 min, and there was a fair amount of information to cover in during such a limited amount of time.
When it became my time to demonstrate, I was glad that I was sitting at a table. The table hid my rapidly twitching legs, as they moved up and down like pistons in a car.
I was surrounded by a group of fourth graders, and if you have not done this in a while, it can be very intimidating.
Thankfully I recognized a few faces, or in other cases they recognized me, which helped ease my nerves as I began to speak.
When the second group arrived, my daughter, Madison, came running up, and give me a big hug and kiss just before my demonstration. Some needed reassurance for me.
It was delightful to see the children so happy and inquisitive, and I was very surprised with the lack of screaming, as many of these kids were being introduced to these ugly critters for the first time!
During the two hours of the program, we did eight presentations, for nearly 100 children, as they rotated from one station to another.
There was a final group wrap-up meeting, and we broke for the day.
If you happen to have the time, and chance, I strongly recommend that you volunteer in this program.
There is no doubt that during the course of the day, you will learn something about the streams, creeks and rivers within the Brandywine Valley and how integral they are in our local environment.
You will also get to work with some wonderful parents, neighbors and BVA Staff, and if nothing else, you do get a chance to work with children, and maybe spark some sort of curiosity into science!