Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2016 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Baltimore Floods: Introducing the Comp Hydro Project Blending Hydrology, Data and Computation for High School Students and Teachers.
Berkowitz, Alan
Co-Authors: Alan R. Berkowitz, Cary Institute BES Bess Caplan, Cary Institute BES Garrett Love, NC School of Science and Math Randy Boone, Colorado State Univ. Andy Miller, Univ. Maryland Baltimore County

Abstract: Comp Hydro is a new project of BES and three partner sites in the West (Missoula MT, Ft. Collins CO and Tucson AZ) to address the importance of quantitative reasoning and computational thinking in environmental science literacy. In order to make and evaluate evidence-based arguments about socio-ecological issues, it is necessary to have some ability to understand how scientists develop and use data, computation and computational models to learn and make predictions about events and processes in systems. Each site is working with a small group of high school environmental science and engineering teachers to develop and test two-week instructional units on a local water-related issue of interest to students. The MT and AZ sites are focusing on groundwater contamination, while BES is looking at flooding, addressing the question, “Why do watersheds in Baltimore flood so frequently and violently?” The BES Flooding Unit will blend hands on investigations in the school grounds and using physical models, datasets from BES partners, and agent-based simulation models of runoff. Learning goals include principles in hydrology explaining precipitation, runoff and watershed response; proficiency with contouring, interpolation and the common visualizations used in hydrology; and key computational thinking skills such as discretization, parameterization, and iteration. An overview of our initial work with 9 BES Comp Hydro teachers from 5 Baltimore City high schools will be presented, along with requests for advice and input from BES scientists.