SFA's 'Hydrodays' provides students with hands-on science experience

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - East Texas is blessed with numerous water resources. It's a perfect spot for Stephen F. Austin's "Hydrodays" to re-enforce conservation messages among young people.

As part of the educational workshop, which was held smack dab in the middle of Lanana Creek Thursday, students were required to get up close and personal with the subject they are studying.For the next two days, more than 50 area middle and high school students will learn about their water resources.

"I love it. It's very interesting," Kerrigan Hightower, a home school student, said. "My dad is an environmental specialist, so I think I might have that calling."

The students are conducting a simplified version of the Environmental Protection Agency's rapid bio assessment. That means they hunt around for plants, bugs and fish.

During the workshop, a student could be heard yelling, "Don't let it get away!"

The students are finding out the health of the stream. They measure and calculate. They learn natural waterways are pretty much a thing of the past.

"Most of the land has been modified for at least agriculture, farming, different things like that, so we don't have any true, original natural landscapes," Mindy Shaw, a lecturer with the SFA Department of Geology, said.

Consequently, the ever changing landscape is often the biggest threat to a waterway.

"Really the biggest problem is areas of massive erosion," Dr. Kevin Stafford, a hydrologist and an assistant professor of geology at SFA, said. "People don't realize that sediment is the largest contaminant we have."

"It makes you realize, I guess, how complex it is because, I guess, when you first look at water it's just like, oh it's a water stream," Clay O'Daniel, a Ft. Bend student, said.

And what better way to learn than finding all that complexity yourself.

"I appreciate it much more because I remember what I learn when it's hands on," Timothy Marshall, a Regents Academy student, said.

Even if it means coming out of the classroom a bit soggy.

SFA's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Research and Learning Center sponsors Hydrodays. Other "STEM" learning camps will take place throughout the summer.

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