From “mountain top” sinkhole to the headwaters springs feeding the San Marcos River, the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Aquarena Springs presents students, teachers and researches an opportunity to learn about an entire watershed in a compact controlled setting.
Students and visitors experience a unique environment where they can tour a complete watershed that helps recharge an aquifer that discharges into the springs overlooked by Meadows Center’s Headwaters Discovery Center. It is also here where visitors experience the small clear water lake and wetlands that form the headwaters of the San Marcos River.
Over 13,500 students in school groups will visit the San Marcos Springs (Aquarena) Headwaters Discovery Center in the coming year, along with an added 25,000 self-guided youth and adult visitors. This presents an enormous experiential education opportunity for visitors to learn about an entire watershed.
In many cases student groups are accompanied to the headwaters, and the adjacent watershed and wetlands, by teachers who have brought their classes to the headwaters repeatedly over many years. These teachers can help provide additional perspective on the effectiveness of use of new technology and education enhancements proposed by H2O researchers. This can include new mobile technology “Apps,” videos, and teacher support materials. Education research can include test-based evaluations of student learning conducted by graduate students and faculty at Texas State University. Teachers can also respond to questions about student attitude toward outdoor educational enhancements and technology, versus prior year’s experiences where such innovations were unavailable.
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H2O (Headwaters to Ocean) is a cooperative project sponsored by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University and funding partner, the Ewing Halsell Foundation which supports the project H2O. H2O is an experiential, technology-enhanced education program focused on water, from headwaters to the ocean (http://www.water-texas.org)