Members of Texas CityLab team created an installation during the annual Explore UT event to teach children about the principles of green stormwater design. Children got to get their hands dirty designing and building a mini stormwater system out of natural materials and reused materials from the School of Architecture’s waste stream.
The activity started with a short talk and demonstration of rainwater filtration / runoff rates. Water was than run through 3 primary material types placed in a vertical set of semi-deep trays. The three primary materials were A. Natural Plantings (flowers in dirt, etc.) B. Dirt C. No materials. Students were be able to see the rate at which “rain” moves through each condition, indicating which might slow, retain, and manage water flow best.
Students then choose from a buffet of similar materials to create their own mini-systems in clear plastic cups. Materials that the students arranged inside the cup to “manage” incoming rain included grass, sand, dirt, recycled paper, rocks, and wood chips. The goals was to give them the information and tools to make informed rainwater management decisions.
When they finished, water was poured into the cups, flow rates and infiltration was gauged informally with them and one-on-one informal chats were had about what happened. We promoted conversations relating to: What worked? What didn’t? Why? How did they feel about the process? What might they do differently next time?