Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Stream Table from Little River Research & Design

Many many thanks to Little River Research & Design, aka Fluvial Geomorphology in a Box, for loaning us their traveling stream table!

It is hard to do justice to the stream table concept -- an amazing piece of scientific equipment -- because it is capable of so many things that are beyond my ability to understand. I strongly recommend that you take a second to read LITTLE RIVER RESEARCH & DESIGN: An organization focused on river science education to meet challenges of the Anthropocene by Anna Durrett & Steve Gough. It is short and has beautiful photos, a better description than I can ever give of how it works and why it is important, and includes a video of the stream table in action.

This Emriver model travels to many schools and I'm honored that they included our little local Waldorf & Montessori homeschool co-op on that list. Little River is a wonderful local company! They have a stream table at Artspace 304 (located in the old public library building at 304 W Walnut Street in Carbondale) as part of "Seasonal Pulse," the art exhibit about the Mississippi River Basin. This exhibit is actually part of a much larger project with international backing titled "Mississippi. An Anthropocene River." In this 520 day long project, we are part of Field Station 4, "Confluence Ecologies."

I didn't know all of that when I went by the Artspace 304 exhibit opening reception on a Friday evening and took Zac to see what was going on!

While there we found information on a disappearing Mississippi habitat, the canebrake, and even how to bring this microbiome back by planting one. I thought that was pretty incredible. I have a copy of the instructions if you are interested! THIS IS NOT ABOUT SURVIVAL (IT’S ABOUT BRINGING YOUR CORACLE): Max Tells Us About Cane by Michael Swierz & Maureen Walrath

Zac was also fascinated by the stream table and I spoke with Steve Gough, Fluvial Geomorphologist and Principal at LRRD, who immediately said that we should arrange a loan of their smaller traveling stream table for our school. Jim came and set it up that following Monday! And tomorrow they are taking it down and it will head on to another school.

A stream table is just an incredible thing to have set up in your Art Room. It not only perfectly fit with our recent study of Landforms & Water Features, but I connected it with the Waldorf Capital Letters block as well (more on that in the next post) and the Montessori Grammar block. Of course, we also had plenty of stream table work happening in Choice Time and at Recess.

All week the Little Bluestem students and siblings, ages 2 to 17, were able to explore it. Parents were able to explore it. Friends were able to explore it. Art Class students were able to explore it. Science Club students were able to explore it. Homeschoolers who came to hear Dav Glass speak were able to explore it. All in all, I think we were able to share it with about 35 people. And it was a phenomenenal experience! We will all miss it when it is gone.

setting up the table

adding buckets full of color-coded sediment

it's completely irresistable
even without water yet!

adding the water to the basin

turning on the pump for the first time

we actually get to see the river abandon a meander

yes, big kids like it too

drying out the table and carefully adding a cave

this cave will not survive when the water
is turned back on

endless experimentation

bringing parents and siblings in to see

everyone who comes creates a new design!

"Mississippi. An Anthropocene River" is a project by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), Berlin, in collaboration with numerous international partners, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office as part of the initiative #WunderbarTogether as well as by the Max Planck Society.

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