This past week we experienced a spring thaw. Unfortunately, the thaw only lasted 2 days…fortunately, it was long enough for me to have some fun teaching kids about water diversion. I’ve been looking for more opportunities to introduce STEM activities for kids (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)…this exploration of water diversion fits the bill. We actually happened upon water diversion project in our own backyard. The warmer weather meant that all the snow and ice that had accumulated in our backyard was melting in the sunshine. When my daughter headed into the backyard to play, I decided to take a look around and make certain that the melting ice, and the resulting water, had somewhere to go. That is when I saw that the melting snow was pooling right next to the house. The water was not able to flow away from the house…and we needed to engineer with a solution.
I discussed the situation with my daughter. I asked her to assess the problem and come up with a solution. She took some time thinking things over and then she grabbed a stick and drew where I needed to dig a channel into the ice and snow. The channel would divert and direct the pooling water away from the house. By using the slope of the yard and gravity she was able to engineer a way to move the water. It was great to see her problem solve and determine how deep I had to make the channel and what direction it had to take. I got to work chipping away at the ice and soon enough the water began flowing away from the house. Perfect. There were actually a couple of spots in the yard that we had to address…my daughter did all the planning and I did all the digging.
We were lucky enough to actually come across a spot in the park where the melting water had created a natural channel in the ice. The water had found a way to naturally divert itself. Where once we would have walked right on by, this time my daughter was the one pointing out the science behind what was happening. I find that outdoor play and learning often go hand in hand. This is just one more reason I cannot wait for the big spring thaw…more water diversion experiments!