UM Leads EPA-Funded Field-Based Groundwater Education Project

April 08, 2015

MISSOULA – The spectrUM Discovery Area and its partners have been awarded an Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education Grant of nearly $170,000 to implement a field- and data-based groundwater education program in western Montana.

The project is led by Beth Covitt, spectrUM’s head of Science Education Research & Evaluation, in collaboration with Bill Woessner and Deb Fassnacht. Woessner is a University of Montana Regents Professor Emeritus of hydrogeology, and Fassnacht is executive director of the Watershed Education Network.

The Montana Groundwater Academy will engage high school students in firsthand field- and data-based groundwater science, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about real-world water issues.

“The Montana Groundwater Academy reflects the great things that happen when our community comes together to educate young people about science that matters in our everyday lives,” said spectrUM Director Holly Truitt.

Supporting partners on the project include Mountain Water Company, Missoula Valley Water Quality District, Missoula Parks and Recreation and Newfields Companies, LLC. The Missoula Parks and Recreation board has approved the program’s field site in Greenough Park.

Partner scientists and educators include the Bitter Root Research Conservation and Development Area, the Clark Fork Coalition, Salish Kootenai College and the Watershed Education Network.

The groundwater education field site in Greenough Park will comprise a network of about a dozen monitoring wells, three stream stage gauges and a climate station, which will be installed with funds contributed by Mountain Water Company.

The small monitoring wells, scheduled to be installed beginning April 8 and project instrumentation will have minimal impact on the park and on park users.

Committed to inspiring a culture of learning and discovery for all, spectrUM Discovery Area is an interactive science center located in the heart of downtown Missoula. Annually, spectrUM serves more than 50,000 Montanans through in-museum and mobile programs.

SpectrUM’s sponsors and partners include the Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the Jane S. Heman Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Program, NISE Network, the Noyce Foundation, the O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation, SciGirls, and Western Montana Area Health Education Center. Its Science for All Scholarship Fund has given the gift of science to more than 10,000 Montana children.

The public can visit spectrUM at 218 E. Front St. in Missoula. Public hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Admission costs $3.50 per person.

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Contact: Beth Covitt, head of science education research and evaluation, spectrUM Discovery Area, 406-370-0462, beth.covitt@umontana.edu.