Westtown School is in the middle of a major lake restoration project. Funded in part by donations from Westtown alumni, parents, and friends, right now the lake looks more like a construction project than the serene place for picnics and walks that might normally come to mind. Teachers across the divisions have been planning units and projects that incorporate the restoration into their classes.
Teacher Tom’s Geometry students are working in groups to create models for water flow through Westtown’s lake. Tom took his Geometry students down to the lake to discuss the project and see what is involved in restoring the lake, creating a better system for capturing silt and constructing a modern dam. The students have been challenged to create a mathematical model for normal water flow through the lake. Students are developing a block diagram model, linking the sources of water to the dispersion of that water. With the creek there is natural water flow, but the students also have to account for rainfall and watershed effects. Water leaves the system via the dam but also via evaporation. Integrating all of these variables into their models is just one of the challenges in this project. Students are also learning to use Google Earth to calculate the approximate area of the lake and the watershed. With no single right answer, the students have to effectively explain their model and defend their results.
Students calculating water flow