Science Students from the New Mexico School for the Blind & Visually Impaired visit Reclamation's Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility
Written by: Fred Brown
Students from the New Mexico School for the Blind & Visually Impaired learn about the percentage of salty, ice and fresh water on the planet during a modified lesson at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility.Twenty students from Jeff Killebrew’s science class from the New Mexico School for the Blind & Visually Impaired spent a day "Discovering Desalination" at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico, April 29, 2019.
The group of eager students began the day by being split into three learning groups before touring the facility to experience different teaching aids. In one lesson, Facility Operations Assistant Crystal Bing designed a pie chart using glue and fabric to create tactile differences on the surface of the chart to depict salty, frozen and fresh water.
"The facility staff reached out to us to discuss their learning stations and 'picked our brain' about how to make them more accessible," said Jeff Killebrew. "They took our suggestions to heart and modified every experience in a way that allowed our students to tactually explore and experience as much as possible. All of the activities had a great impact on our student’s understanding of what desalination is and how it impacts their lives."
In another lesson, facility staff replaced 100 cups of water, representing all water on the planet, with whiffle balls. They had 97 whiffle balls representing all the salt water on the earth, two frozen balls representing the ice and one whiffle ball with a different texture to represent fresh water.
It wasn’t just the students who enjoyed their time at the facility. The staff that worked and crafted the lessons felt they were helping make desalination more accessible to students.
"At the end of the event, I felt a strong sense of satisfaction," said Daniel Lucero, the outreach and education coordinator. "Knowing we showed these kids a fun time while learning something that they otherwise would not have experienced was even a bit emotional for me."
The staff also created lasting personal connections that have impacted the students.
"Probably the most moving and inspiring thing that we as school staff witnessed was the way in which the facility’s staff made personal connections with our students – even to the point of facility staff attending our student’s science fair that we had a few days after our field trip," said Killebrew. "That’s probably the most important thing for our students – they feel that they have friends at the research facility and are already anticipating next year’s visit."
The facility plans to continue hosting this annually. Learn more about the facility at https://www.usbr.gov/research/bgndrf/.
Published on May 09, 2019