This rain garden collects water that drains off the roof of the building allowing the water to slowly sink back into the ground.
The 33rd annual Earth Day celebration will be held nationwide Thursday April 22, 2010! What can you and your classroom do to help the Chesapeake Bay? You probably won’t have to look far on your school grounds to create a project. Here are some ideas!
Collecting rainwater with rain barrels is a great way to help the environment and it also provides a source of free water. Source: Flickr, Joebart
Plant Rain Gardens, Trees, or Wildlife Habitats
Plants serve as great buffers to prevent runoff, provide clean air, and can serve as homes for local wildlife which can be studied by students at a later date. Students can continue to care for these areas, creating a long-term learning experience for all ages.
A rain garden is full of native plants in a dug-out low-lying area, and collects runoff from roofs, sidewalks, and other hard surfaces. In the garden, this water can be absorbed instead of going straight into storm drains that lead to the Bay. Not only will this decrease polluted runoff, (the only source of pollution to the Bay that is growing) but it will increase available groundwater.
Planting native trees will prevent runoff and erosion, as well as provide a habitat for local birds and other wildlife. Native plants are well suited to the local environment, and will require less care than non-native species.
Both the rain garden and the native trees will provide habitats for local wildlife, but you could also have your local habitat become a certified National Wildlife Federation wildlife habitat. You will have to provide food, water, cover, and places to raise young. This will serve multiple purposes, including providing a perfect laboratory for students to observe local wildlife.
Install Rain Barrels
Rain barrels attach to buildings’ downspouts and collect rainwater from the roofs. This will serve two purposes on your school grounds – it will help prevent runoff from leaving grounds carrying nutrients, sediments, and chemicals to the Bay, plus it will provide “free” water
to use when taking care of the gardens, trees, and wildlife habitats you
Work with your maintanence staff to create a "No-Mow Zone" in your schoolyard. Source: Flickr, Orchid8
Create a No-Mow Zone
Is there a stream, creek, or drainage ditch that runs through/near school property? In addition to planting trees as discussed above, you could have your school designate the areas around the water as a “Now-Mow Zone”. No-mow zones are areas that are allowed to naturally grow and that are not cut the way traditional lawns are maintained. This will allow grasses and shrubs to grow, and provide a habitat for local wildlife as well as preventing runoff, and decreasing the cost of gasoline for mowing this area. Over time, shrubs and trees will fill in this area.
Remember, if you are hosting a school-wide event, the best way to make an impact would be to lead by example. Recycling, composting uneaten lunches, and water conservation while planting are great ways to start! Encourage students to bring reusable bottles to carry their water in, instead of using a fresh plastic bottle each time.
Schoolyard Activities/Lessons – Bay Backpack
Earth Day Events – Chesapeake Bay Program
Educators Take Action – Earth Day Network