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Portneuf River Watersheds

School: Pocatello Community Charter School

City/State: Pocatello, ID

Grade(s): 5, 6

Format(s): Model: Scientific

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview

Fifth and sixth-grade students from Pocatello Community Charter School in Pocatello, Idaho created a topographic representation of the environmental impact of the Portneuf River watershed to educate the public at their Environmental Fair.

Four students worked on each of the 18 sections. They  worked with the knowledge of water quality indicators, water cycle and watershed and experts from the University of Idaho, Bureau of Land Management and the art instructor to read relief maps of the Portneuf River from the headwaters to the drainage into the Snake River.

After the initial study of water quality indicators and watershed, the students worked with the art teacher to learn how to read topographical maps. The students then used newspaper, cardboard, and masking tape to create the desired shapes: valleys and mountains, river bottoms and knolls. After achieving the desired shape, they covered the entire section with masking tape. The masking tape was in place to protect the structural shape, and then a thin layer of clay was sculpted to create the desired peaks and recesses. When the clay dried, the students painted a gray base layer to prepare it to be painted.

Once the 18 sections were created, the students assembled them into the larger view of the Portneuf River. The topographical relief was used at the Revisioning of the Portneuf as hundreds of community members came together to discuss the reclaiming, restoration and beautification of the Portneuf River as it runs through the town of Pocatello. The students presented their findings from the research of water quality samples collected from 3 unique places along the river. The students presented the topographical relief as a service project to educate the public at the Portneuf Environmental Fair to raise awareness of the environmental impact along a distance and through a diverse population with differing water demands depending on agricultural or town size.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Inspiring model bringing science to life through the compelling local issues of water quality and the environmental impact of a local river
  • Creative product using 3D art, knowledge of maps, and science to educate the public
  • Exemplifies how high-quality small group work can contribute to a sophisticated collective product

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • I can build on other’s ideas during discussions.
  • I can use effective speaking techniques (appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation).
  • I can include multimedia components and visual displays in a presentation to clarify information.
  • I can adapt my speech for a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when indicated or appropriate.
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