Tiny trees dot small hills with a waterway marked in blue making its way across the tabletop 3D model of the Bowker Creek watershed.
A tiny drop of soy sauce represents a leaking oil tank, a sprinkle of dry drink crystals acts as fertilizer. A squirt of water from a spray bottle imitates rain, creating little rivulets of colour, and they all stream down the model together to a bucket under the table.
The physical representation of human impact on the landscape stuck with Oak Bay High student Olivia Friesen from the first time she saw it more than three years ago in Grade 9.
That demonstration was on the original model, created by Angus Stewart, that made the rounds as an outreach tool starting in 2006. That one remains in the care of Peninsula Streams Society.
The new Bowker watershed model, built by graphic designer Soren Henrich, finds its home in an Oak Bay High classroom. Friesen and a handful of her peers are fully trained on showcasing the model and it has already appeared at a couple of community events including the school environment club’s annual rubber ducky race.
Katie Bentley ran demonstrations that day alongside the leg of the creek that runs behind the school and was impressed with the younger kids that interacted with the model. “They were basically teaching themselves,” Bentley said.
People frequently search out where their homes would be on the model right off the bat, said Shona Sinclair.
“You can connect that to where you are in relation to the creek; where the creek is in relation to you; and see what does the creek mean to me and what am I doing in my daily life that might impact the creek?”
With the original model showing some wear, the CRD’s Bowker Creek Initiative commissioned Henrich to create the new one. It’s an area he’s familiar with as a longtime member and volunteer with the Friends of Bowker Creek Society. He included a couple of new features, showing stormwater management facilities – areas that can store water to prevent flooding – as identified in a daylighting feasibility study.
He put thought into the craftsmanship, it’s meant to be touched and handled and is lightweight and easy to transport. That makes life easier for longtime Oak Bay High teacher Derek Shrubsole who keeps the model in his science classroom. The plan is to lead courses and programs instructing other teachers in the region about the model. He hopes to take the tangible connection between people and their impact on urban waterways on the road, sharing the knowledge, and model with other schools in the area.
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