Boutt, Graduate Student Expose High School Students to Hydrologic Concepts

Class at MacLeish Center in Whatley
The hydrology and climate change pilot class studies stream discharge at a site in Whately.

Geosciences professor David Boutt and graduate student Sarah McKnight conducted a two-week pilot course in August to introduce high school students to hydrologic concepts.

Called hydrology and climate change, the course provided first-time exposure to hydrologic concepts for nine students­­–five of them from Massachusetts–and helped them explore the hydrology of their own watersheds.

More than half the class was in the field, and final projects helped students learn about the water resources and climate in their hometowns.

Boutt said, “We had a great turnout of nine students for the pilot class. For many students, this is their first time learning about hydrology because most high school curricula don’t include focus on hydrologic concepts, so the class size helped us to make sure we were able to create activities and material that were both interesting and accessible for a high school audience.”

The course covered the hydrologic cycle and its components, including precipitation, evapotranspiration, stream flow and groundwater flow. The class also enjoyed a guest lecture from Robert DeConto, geosciences, one of the world’s leading experts on modeling polar ice sheets, sea-level rise and ocean response to climate change.

 The UMass Amherst Hydrogeology Research Group focuses on basin-scale groundwater flow problems in a variety of climate conditions. The group recognizes that young people lack access to hydrologic education, and thus the group enjoys developing outreach programs to increase awareness and interest in hydrology and hydrogeology.

For more information, contact Sarah McKnight, 781/820-3830 or smcknight@geo.umass.edu .