Absorbing extra rainwater is one of the most important functions of a wetland. Mwehman/Courtesy photo


Explorit: Wonderful wetlands right at home

By From page A8 | July 25, 2014

Over the next two weeks, campers at Explorit’s Summer Science Camp will dive into the world of water and discover many of its fascinating features. You can join in their explorations by building a model wetland at home.

You will need: a dish pan or baking dish, water, some clay, a scrap of carpet long enough to fit the width of your pan, and some soil or dirt. You can also use sponges instead of carpet.

Set up your pan by molding the clay into a landform in one end of the pan. Leave the other end of the pan empty to simulate a large body of water like a lake or ocean.

Place the carpet scraps or sponges around the edges of the clay landform as a buffer between the clay and the empty space. The carpet or sponges will be your wetland that stands between the dry land and the body of water.

Once your pan is all set up, pour a little water onto the landform like rain. If you added any riverbeds, you might see water collecting in them, then flowing toward the empty end of your pan.

But does all the water reach the empty end of the pan? Try picking up the carpet or sponges and wringing them out to see how much water they absorbed.

Absorbing extra rainwater is one of the most important functions of a wetland. During heavy rains, wetlands can contain some of the extra water to help prevent flooding.

You can see what would happen without a wetland by removing the carpet or sponges from the pan and pouring more water on the clay. Without the wetland to hold things in place, heavy rains can be responsible for a lot of soil erosion.

Put the carpet or sponges back in the pan, and add some soil to your water and try pouring muddy water on the clay this time. Watch what happens. The soil in the water is going to represent pollution. We already know that the wetland will absorb some of the water; it won’t all flow into the lake or ocean.

Take a look at the color of the water in the lake or ocean. Is it the same color as the muddy water you poured on the clay? Why not? One answer is another important feature of wetlands: filtration!

Just as wetlands absorb some of the water that flows into them, preventing it from flowing out to the ocean or lake, they also filter out some of the pollution. So some of the pollution gets stuck in the wetland and doesn’t go any further. Wetlands help prevent pollution from reaching our lakes and oceans!

You can visit local wetlands east of Davis on County Road 28H or visit www.yolobasin.org to learn more.


Explorit’s coming events:

* Explorit’s Beautiful World: Science and Art exhibition is open to the public from 1 to 5 p.m. every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and every Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. Admission is $5 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free.

* Interested in membership? Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed? Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up.

* Save the date: Sunday Sept. 7. Our exciting Final Blast Festival and Chemistry Show once again will wow you and your kids. This event celebrates the end of our Summer Science Camp season and is a fun way to start the new school year.

— Explorit Science Center is at 3141 Fifth St. For more information, call 530-756-0191 or visit www.explorit.org, or “like” Explorit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

Lisa Justice

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