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Students get close look at water

watersheds by Wendy Walsh
Sunrise Elementary sits on top of English Hill, and Norma Olson's fourth grade class had to figure out what watershed the rain off the roof drains into.
   Fourth graders in both Northshore and Lake Washington School districts are studying water, and Gwenn Maxfield, a Woodinville Water District Commissioner, is assisting the schools by bringing in computer software which is projected on a screen to show, in color, the boundaries of watersheds.
   The software, called Geographic Information Service (GIS), is provided by King County Surface Water Management (SWM) staff who have charted watershed information, maps, and geographic boundaries.
   Maxfield has been hired through a Department of Ecology Grant to take the GIS software to schools to help students understand the local watersheds. She is also head of the Watershed Festival, which will host fourth graders from both districts at Blyth Park May 8-10.
   Students will be bused from their schools to the festival, where they will move through three different stations: plant identification, soils studies, and a "Salmon Run." The Salmon Run is an obstacle course which helps the students understand the challenges salmon face in returning to their spawning grounds.
   Students had various definitions of a "watershed:"   One of the goals of Maxfield's program is to have students take water samples from various water sources near the schools and compare the results from different watershed sub-basins.
   The schools will connect through sharing information, and the students will learn about the properties of water, and about the ecosystem and biological interactions as well.