Watershed Education

PBE Topics of Inquiry

Water and land use, stream ecology, macroinvertebrates, conducted chemical, biological and physical stream monitoring techniques, stream mapping and assessment, nature drawing and journaling.

Essential Question

What is our responsibility to each other and the land?

Community issue or need addressed

Stream remediation and habitat preservation


The Huron River in Ann Arbor, Michigan


What can you learn by putting on a pair of waders? Tracey Marchyok’s students at Ann Arbor Learning Community discovered the ways water and land use impact stream ecology and, in the process, became deeply invested in their Huron River watershed. Due to the students’ interest in the water on and surrounding the school site, Tracey and her community partners planned lessons integrating the investigation of where water goes, mapping their school site and monitoring how different land use affects stream hydrology and health.

Community Parterships

The Huron River Watershed Council

The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) partnered in Ms. Marchyok’s classroom for several years, specializing in water monitoring techniques.

Great Lakes Education Program

 GLEP is a service of Michigan Sea Grant, and provides lessons and field experiences for students, like the freshwater boat excursion. 



The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

GLERL  specializes in researching the ecosystems of the Great Lakes. Scientists visited the classroom and spoke with students about such themes as Great Lakes shipwrecks and aquatic bugs.

Leslie Science and Nature Center & Annie's Big Nature Lesson

LSNC was the site for the Annie’s BIG Nature Lesson immersion experience, the week-long camp experience for AALC students. 

Learning & Project Outcomes

At the end of the school year, students presented to the Washtenaw County Water Commissioner and another County Commissioner on their Mallets Creek Study findings. Their presentation of Malletts Creek data, with support from the Huron River Watershed Council, was instrumental in getting the City of Ann Arbor to put the section of Malletts Creek behind AALC on its environmental remediation list.

Students presented on their nature journals at the SEMIS Community Forum as their culminating experience. In the future they will use their study to consult with a tennis club that has purchased property adjacent to the school near Ellsworth and State St., which might threaten their natural habitat trail and garden projects. They plan to engage the property owners, City government, and the Huron River Watershed Council and find solutions to help preserve this natural area and the health of Malletts Creek. The success of this project relied on strong teacher leadership and a strong community-led focus on watershed health.

Interdisciplinary & Cross Grade Level Connections

Students read the book “Paddle-to-the-Sea” to deepen their understanding of Native American history and culture in relation to Great Lakes stewardship and regularly drew macroinvertebreates in their journaling activities.

Drake Meadow has offered a permaculture course elective to AALC middle school students. Students learn permaculture and stewardship basics through a unique entrepreneurial classroom model.

Tammy King has been integral in designing the K–1 butterfly garden space as well as working with the entire staff to coordinate all of the garden projects.

Learning Objectives & Assessments

Science inquiry Process: Make purposeful observations of the natural world; Generate questions based on observations; Use tools that aid observation and data collection; Share ideas and evaluate data and claims about science through purposeful conversation in collaborative groups; Communicate and present findings of observations and investigations using evidence; Describe the effect humans and other organisms have on the balance of the natural world.

Social Studies: Describe past and current threats to Michigan’s natural resources; describe how Michigan worked in the past and continues to work today to protect its natural resources; Assess the positive and negative effects of human activities on the physical environment of the United States; Develop and implement an action plan and know how, when, and where to address or inform others about a public issue.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

Some assessments throughout this project included:

Stream mapping (understanding and interpreting maps, scale, etc.)

Nature drawing and journaling (indicated more detailed stream drawings after nature immersion experience at Leslie Science and Nature Center)

Presentations at SEMIS Community Forum shows ability to educate the public on their research