Exploring Wetlands

When we were visiting the local Natural History Museum earlier this week (on a last-minute whim), we noticed a wetland display. There was a box that you could manually tilt to roll balls through wetland grasses, displaying how the grasses caught and trapped the balls, or pollution. Wetlands: nature’s water filter! Intrigued, we decided to learn more about this amazing ecosystem.

We performed this experiment, demonstrating how the wetland plants can trap pollutants and clean water. The red dye represents the pollutants, and we discovered by the second day that the celery had soaked up a lot of the water, giving the leaves a reddish hue. We cut open the celery to see the veins of the stalk; they were red too. M had hypothesized that all of the water would be clear within 1 day, but it stayed red. We learned that plants will only drink the amount of water that they need, so clearly there was still some “pollutants” in the water.

We checked out books from the library:

We visited a local wetland at the Swaner Ecocenter in Park City UT. We went on a self-guided 1/4-mile trail in the wetland and hoped to see some cranes, but didn’t. We did get to see cattails and feel the sponginess of the ground off the trail.

We discussed that there are different wetlands throughout the world, with different plants and animals. We made a poster about wetlands in our state; showing that some of the water comes from snow melting in the mountains, and showing some of the animals that benefit from the wetlands. After making the poster, both girls gave a short presentation (although C’s presentation was just pointing out animals for us to name). (C colored the animals for the poster, which is why they are so brightly colored. M colored animals too, and realistically, even asking for the bird book to so she could get the male mallard correct, but she decided to keep her coloring page for herself.) (And we used this wetland coloring page too.)

The main points about wetlands that I tried to highlight were:

  • Wetlands filter and purify water.
  • Wetlands can prevent flooding because they are capable of holding excess water from heavy rains, etc.
  • Many animals benefit from the wetland ecosystem.

I was disappointed in the lack of wildlife and educational displays at Swaner, so I hope to take the whole family to visit the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge soon for more hands-on learning (look forward to a part II post!). We will continue to read our library books this week, color in this coloring book, and I’m hopeful we can learn a little more from the education center at Bear River.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: While researching wetlands, I found tons of online resources, and could not use them all in this short unit, but will be revisiting them in the future. Here they are, for your reference:

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