Environment Erie

Erie students learn value of collecting water

Jun 10, 2015 | Posted in News

ERIE, Pa. -- A few raindrops hit the 48-inch white plastic funnel as Jafari Veriti and Nate Millet attached it to the top of a 55-gallon barrel.

Based on the average precipitation in Erie, the plastic barrel has the potential to collect 250 gallons of rainwater a year for the garden at Diehl Elementary School, said Millet, education manager with Environment Erie.

"It saves the school money," said Jafari, 14, a seventh-grader.

Sixteen seventh- and eighth-graders worked on the Earth Action project that led to the installation Tuesday of four open rainwater collection systems in an interior yard at the Erie school, 2327 Fairmount Parkway. The systems will provide water for onions lettuce, corn, broccoli and other plants in the raised garden beds.

"They (each) have the potential of collecting, in a 1-inch rain event, 6 and a half gallons of water," Millet said.

He said the funnel systems were installed because there are no external downspouts to attach the barrels to. A spigot on each barrel will allow students to fill watering cans.

Science teacher Lindsey Dahl and schoolwide specialist Barb Gates coordinated the project with Millet. Earth Action is a program of Environment Erie, which received a Growing Greener grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection for the systems. Welch's and the Erie School District donated the barrels, Millet said.

Dahl said students took the project from idea to research to design to implementation.

"They learned water is an extremely valuable resource," she said.

Seventh-grader Devonna Williams, 13, liked coming up with a project idea and painting the barrels. Students also constructed the stands that hold the barrels and decorated them with handprints.

"It was fun," Devonna said.

Principal Dana Gilmore said the project provided hands-on science learning for the students.

"They take ownership of their learning and get excited about it," he said. "It gives the kids a positive reason to come to school every day."

DANA MASSING can be reached at 870-1729 or by e-mail. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNmassing.