This hands-on science course introduces students to scientific methods of studying both the aquatic and terrestrial parts of a watershed. Students gain research experience while learning about watersheds and the impact of humans on watersheds. This course is an exciting alternative to most introductory science courses.
Watershed Watch was designed as a two course sequence. The first course (BIOL 415) takes place during a two-week intensive Summer Research Institute which alternates between New Hampshire and North Carolina. In New Hampshire, research takes students to the White Mountains. In North Carolina, research is conducted in the Great Dismal Swamp and the Outer Banks.
The second course takes place as an academic year seminar (BIOL 416) that meets once per week. It provides an introduction to hands-on scientific methods of studying the Merrimack (NH) and Pasquotank (NC) River Watersheds. By studying the watershed, students learn important aspects of scientific fieldwork and data analysis, along with human and societal impacts on the watershed. Extensive hands-on experiences are offered to stimulate inquiry-based learning, where students are actively involved in answering real questions that lead to an improved understanding of 1) the role watersheds play in natural systems and 2) the societal impacts on and benefits derived from watersheds.
A shortened version this program is offered as a mini-course for UNH CONNECT, an undergraduate support program offering academic workshops in preparation for the transition to college.
Watershed Watch and UNH CONNECT workshops bring together several areas of scientific research: satellite remote sensing, forest ecology, limnology and microbial ecology. The course is highly interdisciplinary, focusing on geologic, hydrologic, and atmospheric forces, along with the biologic processes responsible for the current status of the river's drainage basin. It includes a strong human impact perspective, documenting both the values of watersheds to society, as well as the effects humans have had on watersheds over the past several centuries. With its focus on specific scientific and technological content, the course fulfills a Category 3 General Education Requirement.
Watershed Watch is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (#0525433) in partnership with the University of New Hampshire, Elizabeth City State University, New Hampshire Technical College, and College of the Albemarle.