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Pond Mapping: Exploring What is Below the Pond's Surface

The Issue

Strong science skills are essential for everyday living, academic success and job performance. Yet, nearly half of all California 8th graders test below their grade level in science abilities. The current emphasis on reading and math is squeezing science from the classroom curriculum.

What Has ANR Done?

In 2003-04, Jeanne George, 4-H Youth Development Advisor, taught 30 5th and 6th grade students from Bidwell Elementary School in Red Bluff about watersheds, different types of maps and uses, how to use a compass, and how to measure the perimeter and depth of a pond. The year-long course culminated with a field trip to actually map a pond and explore the pond’s habitat. Discovery Center Interns from the Red Bluff High School Natural Resources Regional Occupational Program assisted the younger students.

The students learned how to use the tools of the trade and mapped Ben’s Pond at the Red Bluff Recreation Area of the Mendocino National Forest. Using the data they collected, the students wrote and distributed a flyer about the pond with a topographical map.

The Payoff

Pond Mapping Activities Enhance Youth's Environmental Literacy

The students learned how to use different tools to map a pond i.e. compass, alidade, sounding line,measuring tape and plane table. In addition to learning how to map a pond, the youth explored nature and investigated what was around and below a pond’s surface. The Pond Mapping curriculum is in the process of further review and pilot-testing nationwide. The intended audiences are 4th-6th graders with teens as teachers.

Clientele Testimonial

Student Megan Benefield said “I was amazed that we were able to map (the pond).” Melissa Renteria thought the mapping would be really hard, but it was easy. She said it was neat to be able to experience using data together to make a map. Juanita Marple stated, “At first, I didn’t know how to map a pond or anything! How can you figure out the depth of something filled with water? When Mrs. George came I was excited, not only about mapping a pond, but about learning how to map a pond. I loved doing the activities!” Patrick Hall and Melissa shared that learned how to use a compass so they won’t get lost.

Tyler Ester-Freer explained how the class made a map of the school’s amphitheater before they went to the pond to learn how to use an engineer’s ruler and the different scales. Juliann Fox liked the alidade, an engineering tool used to line up points to record on the map using the plane table and engineer’s ruler. Paul Malatesta learned about pacing to determine distance and using the “one legged” table to map the perimeter of the pond. Juliann added, "I liked it because it made me feel real educated, like a real surveyor."


Supporting Unit: Tehama County

Jeannette George, 4-H Youth Development Advisor
1754 Walnut Street, Red Bluff, CA 96080
(530) 527-3101