Potomac Highlands watershed School

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Cacapon Institute
City & State:
High View, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement
Cacapon Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.

Submission Information

Impact Essay
Cacapon Institute’s internet-based Potomac Highlands Watershed School (2005) was designed for k-12 classrooms, with lessons tied to required curriculum. While the website is built on a FrontPage platform, the eSchool owes its look and much of its personality to Adobe products: Illustrator, Flash, and Photoshop. The school was designed to look like an old-time, Appalachian schoolhouse. The outside view and classroom interiors were drawn using Illustrator. The outside background and the classroom window views were a digital photograph modified in Photoshop. The school was designed to be engaging and invite exploration, but not to be overly cute or require a fast internet connection. That drove the decision to make the pages static, with hotlinks embedded in the classroom images. A suite of four interactive Flash activities were built early on: Watershed Puzzle, Watershed Creator, Stream Cleaner, and Decision Matrix. An additional Flash movie (“What is a Watershed”) was added in 2007, and a new suite on benthic macroinvertebrates went “live” on April 13, 2009. These Flash activities are accessible via hotlinks on the blackboards. While our organizational mission is tied to the Chesapeake Bay region, the eSchool is used by schools free-of-charge throughout the world, including one teacher in Bangkok who used the Flash lessons in an English as a Second Language class. The most popular activity thus far is Stream Cleaner, which teaches about the problem of and solutions for non point source pollution. Stream Cleaner also forms the basis for the annual, month-long Stream Cleaner Environmental Forum that has, over a four year span, engaged over 2000 high school students from throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed for a month in the “high school.” The new benthic macroinvertebrate activities are designed to enhance the educational benefit of the hands-on stream assessment programs used in schools throughout the USA and much of the world. These activities are accessible by clicking on the “BMI” poster in the classrooms. The portal page was drawn using Illustrator, as were all of the original benthic macroinvertebrate illustrations on that page and in the three Flash activities currently available (“What is a BMI”, “The Sedimentation Blues”, and “Cast of Characters”). For the purpose of this submission, I’m providing this link http://www.cacaponinstitute.org/e_classroom.htm to the Potomac Highlands Watershed School and suggesting a tour of selected classroom elements. Follow the url, then click on the “High School” door. In the High School Classroom: 1. Click on Stream Cleaner (Flash) on the Blackboard and try the activity. 2. After playing the Stream Cleaner activity, click on the pollution section of the classrooms Bookshelf, and select Stream Cleaner to read background information. 3. After closing out the bookshelf, click on the BMI poster to enter the Benthic Macroinvertebrate Portal. 4. Click on the Sedimentation Blues (Flash) to learn about sediment impact on aquatic life. 5. Click on Cast of Characters (Flash slide show) to get a look at the original Illustrator artwork. Before they were officially released, the benthic movies were already in use by regional watershed groups.
Submission Category
Environmental Impact Other Media