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Clean Water Institute invests in environmental educational tools

Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute (CWI) recently introduced new equipment to be used at the Waterdale Environmental Education Center. As part of a $24,000 grant from the PPL Foundation, the equipment will help to enhance environmental education programming and hands-on learning opportunities for school-aged students in Lycoming County.

Waterdale is supported by a cooperative of public water utilities, academic resources and local and state conservation organizations that serve the community with education and outreach programs emphasizing stewardship and protection of our natural water resources. It provides a venue for scientific field work, as well as teaching and learning experiences in a real-world environmental setting.

Research equipment purchased through the grant includes:

• Water chemistry equipment

• Ground water models

• Stream table

• Child-sized binoculars

• Stream nets

• Stereoscopic microscopes

• Trail cameras

• Storm-water model

• Enviroscape models

The PPL Foundation visited Waterdale to witness 100 fourth grade students from Jersey Shore as they experimented with the newly acquired equipment during a field trip.

The College’s education department currently provides Waterdale with standards-aligned lessons and experiences for approximately 600 Lycoming County school-age students annually, typically in third to sixth grades. While this curriculum is tailored to help promote an understanding of the watershed, water cycle, wetlands, stream dynamics and more, high school curriculum is designed to help students gain experience sampling stream water and analyzing its chemistry.

A portion of the PPL Foundation grant provided funds necessary to support two Lycoming student interns, Brandan Gracia ’19 and Brooke Millisock ’20, who revised the curriculum guide used at Waterdale. The cost of supplies and printing expenses for literature and posters used for the promotion of the environmental education programming were also supported through the grant.

“Education is critical to the preservation of our waterways, and Lycoming College and the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority Filtration Plant are taking steps to ensure that future generations have a vested interest in keeping them healthy, along with all of the plants and animals that need them to survive,” said Mel Zimmerman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of biology and director of the CWI. “The PPL grant has made it possible for Waterdale to continue to provide those needed services.”

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