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Oklahoma Water Science Center

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By William J. Andrews

Youth Initiative Project

The USGS Oklahoma Water Science Center, with funding from the USGS Youth Initiative program, is conducting educational activities in the earth sciences at three educational facilities in Oklahoma. This project is an educational continuum that is designed to inspire interest in the earth sciences and related fields amongst underprivileged and under-represented students in these fields.
The Goddard Youth Camp near Sulphur, Oklahoma is a non-profit camp and museum in the Arbuckle mountains of south-central Oklahoma that provides outdoor education for ~6,000 5th-6th-grade students for a week each summer and about 6,000 students of that age group for day trips. Staff of the USGS Oklahoma Water Science Center are developing curricula to inspire interest in the earth sciences that visiting teachers show their students at the camp and can take back to their classrooms. The USGS has installed a phenology garden (fig. 1) at the camp that students can use to understand the interactions between plant-growth cycles and climate change. A webcam was installed above the garden so that students can track dates of blooming and other plant-growth stages from their schools or homes and report data to the USA National Phenology Network USAPN. A “Teaching Tree” (fig. 2) has been installed in the museum at the camp to show Powerpoints, videos, and class exercises in various aspects of the earth sciences for students visiting the camp. A demonstration streamgage was installed so that students can relate real-time gage data to the instrumentation they may see installed at water bodies & bridges across the nation.

There is a webcamera available for live viewing of the phenology garden at the Goddard Youth Camp:

Instructions for use of webcamera at phenology garden at GoddardInstructions for accessing the Goddard web camera

Photos of activities at the Goddard Youth Camp:

Figure 1. Photograph of partially-installed phenology garden at the Goddard Youth Camp, Oct. 2010.

Phenology garden


Figure 2. Photograph of “Teaching Tree”, at Goddard Youth Camp, February 2011.

Teaching Tree

The Santa Fe South Charter School has a student body that is mostly Hispanic, with some Native American and African American students. The USGS Oklahoma Water Science Center has installed a groundwater-level gage in an irrigation well on the school grounds (fig. 3) online at Santa Fe School well Hydrograph), and is developing lesson plans in areas of hydrologic hazards, water flow, and water quality primarily for students.


Figure 3. USGS Hydrologic Technician James Greer and Principal Mike Figueroa lead a tour of students to the groundwater-level gage on the grounds of the Santa Fe South Charter School in Oklahoma City, Sep. 2010.

Santa Fe School Class


To complete the educational continuum, staff of the USGS Oklahoma Water Science Center are working with faculty at the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Langston University to start a 2-year Associates Degree program in the Hydrologic Sciences. Langston University is a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) located about 30 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. The goal of the program is to inspire interest and train students for careers as Hydrologic Technicians. If the 2-year degree program is successful, a 4-year Bachelor of Science program may be established at Langston University to train students as entry-level Hydrologists or to prepare them to engage in graduate studies in the Hydrologic Sciences. As an initial part of the program, USGS Oklahoma Water Science Center staff have spoken at several symposia at Langston University, have hired several students from the University as temporary employees (fig. 4), and are planning on working with existing classes to install a streamgage on campus at Langston Lake (fig. 5).


Figure 4. Langston University students assisting with USGS streamgage maintenance activities, July, 2010.

Langston Students Assisting


Figure 5. Streamgage housing (in Langston orange and blue!) planned to be installed on the campus of Langston University, Spring, 2011


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