Program brings water resources education to county schools

Olivia Bouzigard, News Reporter

A new outreach program is in its first phase of educating local teachers and students about hydrology and water resources.

The Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences started “Water on the Move” and received a National Science Foundation grant in fall 2018. With the program in full gear, it will educate teachers and students of Watauga County schools about local water issues, data and research.

“Teaching other children, especially about geology, which is not normally taught in public schools, will allow children to realize there are more options than just looking at rocks,” said Marta Toran, the department’s lead outreach coordinator.

The first phase is to see which teaching strategies are effective in target schools. The program will work with teachers to develop lesson plans and teach students. Once the program is finalized, the goal is to package the department’s models, figures and resources and make them available online as lesson plans. One goal is to develop kits for teachers to borrow from the department.

One of Toran’s goals is to improve outreach in the department. She said the department reaches around 4,000 people per semester through outreach programs like field trips for local schools, resources for teachers and family science nights.

Olivia Bouzigard
Senior quantitative geology majors Carly Maas (left) and Brandon Yokeley are both interns for the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences’ “Water on the Move” program. The program is aimed to educate teachers and students of neighboring Watauga County schools about local water issues, data and research.

Toran tries to get undergraduate students involved in all programs.

Toran selected Carly Maas and Brandon Yokeley, both senior quantitative geology majors, to work as “Water on the Move” interns. They will travel in the Geobago, the outreach vehicle used as a traveling classroom.

Maas said teaching others children about geology is a rewarding experience.

Maas and Yokeley take skills they learned within their major and apply them outside the classroom for “Water on the Move.”

“I enjoy teaching the surrounding communities about science, not a lot of them have the background and it is nice to expand knowledge outside of the classroom,” Yokeley said.

The program will reach third and eighth grades and high school levels because of their water science curriculum. The program has met with teachers to understand what resources they need. Toran said most do not have the resources and supplies to teach children about water science. She also said others think they do not have enough background knowledge because of the many subjects elementary school teachers teach.

“Water on the Move” has worked in Raleigh, where participants taught lessons, held workshops for teachers over the region and provided teachers with mineral samples, games and books. The program wants to bring their previous work to the first phase, teaching schools around the county.

For more information about “Water on the Move,” visit