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    Land Alliance Teaches Vernon about Water

  • Vernon School fifth graders learned about one of our most precious resources and why it is so important to protect it when Ms. Karen Mossey, an educator with the North Shore Land Alliance, visited the school. The North Shore Land Alliance is a nationally accredited land trust that preserves and protects open space on Long Island’s North Shore, which ultimately improves the quality of life for all Long Islanders.

    In two separate sessions, students learned about Long Island’s water supply by conducting experiments and making mini aquifers in clear plastic cups filled with sand, clay and rocks.

    “Of the 44 inches of rainfall per year on Long Island, half goes into the aquifer, Ms. Mossey said. “The rest goes to vegetation, is evaporated, is land runoff that goes into the ponds and streams or goes into storm drains that lead to the ocean or bays through a piping system,” she said.

    Students paired up and measured 44 inches against each other to get a visual understanding of how much water falls on Long Island each year.

    “The problem on Long Island is that we don’t have enough open space,” Ms. Mossey explained. “Many don’t understand how important open space is to the aquifer.”

    To illustrate how important green space or open space is to protect the aquifer, Ms. Mossey led the students in various experiments. With a couple of aluminum pans, a tilted book and sponges to represent open space, they explored what happens to the open space when it “rains." They sprayed the sponges with a spray bottle three times. The result? Water stayed inside the sponge (green space), allowing it to go into the aquifer.

    “As water goes through the gravel and dirt, it acts as a filter and the water is cleaner by the time it reaches the aquifer,” she said.

    In a second experiment, students explored what happens to the water supply when there’s no open space by putting aluminum foil over the sponge to represent a parking lot. When they spayed the foil, they found that the water could not penetrate the sponge, thus preventing water from getting to the aquifer.

    “The more people understand the use of open space, the more people will want to protect it,” she concluded.

    In another experiment, the students “polluted” the water to see if it affected the rocks and sand in the aquifer by turning green. 

    This is the fourth year the North Shore Land Alliance has presented the program to fifth-grade science classes at Vernon School.

    “The North Shore Land Alliance does a magnificent job of helping our students understand how important our natural resources are and what they need to do to preserve them,” said Principal Dr. Valerie Vacchio. “We are thrilled to have them in our classrooms to reinforce our fifth-grade science lessons.”

  • students measure each other

    Students paired up and measured 44 inches against each other to get a visual understanding of how much water falls on Long Island each year.

    mini aquifers

    Students made mini aquifers out of sand, clay and rocks.

    rain experiment

    Students spray water on sponges that represented green space to show how green space benefits the water supply.

    parking lot experiment

    Students spray water on a sheet of aluminum foil that represented a parking lot to show how pavement prevents water from reaching the aquifer.


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