Blog by Christina Maldonado
Christine was an Alliance for Watershed Fellow during the summer of 2018. We are so happy to continue to be in touch and work with her.
The Creekmobile will be visiting Tacony Creek Park gateways and community events over the next few months. Would you like us to bring the Creekmobile to your camp or community festival? Contact Doryan@ttfwatershed.org for more information!
The Creekmobile is a fun and creative way to get to know the Tookany/ Tacony-Frankford Watershed! The Creekmobile is an all encompassing tool for learning — all on a mobile cart. It’s great for on-the-go learning on the trails and off, in the community.
This mobile cargo tricycle features a box that includes four games that educate on the different streams within the watershed, the impact of pollution in our creeks from the street, the impact of a combined sewer outflow (CSO), and a fishing game that enables kids to fish trash out of the creek and estimate how long it takes for each item to break down.
I had the privilege of enhancing one of the games on the Creekmobile. I worked on the drawer that focused on the impacts of a CSO. This activity is a simulation of what flows into our creeks when there is heavy rainfall, and not enough permeable surface on our streets to keep the pipes from backing up or rather, from waste overflowing into the creek.
When I began working on the game, the drawer had the bare bones — two circular divots on one side representing where waste from residential areas would flow, another two circular divots on the other side representing storm drains that collected rain water, a bigger section dedicated to the creek, and in the middle of the drawer, a pipe-like trench connecting all three of these areas.
First, I needed to figure out how much water would need to be added to indicate a typical day of stress on the pipes vs stress from in-home flushing along with a heavy rain day. After testing out a few different volumes, I figured out how much would be enough to indicate the first simulation (normal day) and the second simulation (heavy rainy day). For game use I drew a fill line on two paper cups that could be used for the game.
Second, I needed to figure out a way to keep water from flowing into the creek when I wanted to indicate a regular day. The result was a piece of wood that would act as a gate; opening during a heavy rainstorm that would allow the water to flow into the creek but keep the water out on a regular day. In addition to adding the gate, I added a piece of clay to cover the water outlet in the creek portion of the drawer so the water could pool and the overflow could be visualized. After the simulations were tested, I was able to decorate the drawer creatively to be more engaging to the kids who would be playing the game.
To finish up the drawer, I painted the creek area to resemble an actual creek. I added brown paint along the edges to look like soil, kept the blue clay that represented the creek water, and added green material to the above portion of the creek to represent greenery.
For the storm drains, I added two bath drains to put into the divots to further represent the divots as storm drains vs the residential divots where I added a picture of row homes. To allow water access, I removed the middle of the pictures and laid them across the divots.
Next to the residential divots I added two laminated pictures that further explain what occurs in a CSO on a dry day (regular day) vs a wet day (rainy day). Lastly, I touched up the “pipes” using a dark grey paint to make them stand out from among the rest of the drawer which began as grey.
Working on the Creekmobile was such a fun opportunity for me! I hope it helps to inform children and adults of all ages about the fact that combined sewage overflows negatively impact our waterways.