EcoExperiences: Edwards Aquifer Outdoor Collaboration


Despite chilly November temperatures, students from two Austin high schools recently explored Barton Springs and the greenbelt to learn about the geology and biology of the Edwards aquifer.

“I believe education in situ is the best way to change [students’] lives for the better. Together we reached over 60 young minds and made them care a little more for our fragile ecosystem,” said Rebeca Guerrero, AP Environmental Science teacher from Travis High School.

Guerrero teamed up with Alison Mote, AP Environmental Science teacher from Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, to develop a hands on field trip based on The University of Texas’ Environmental Science Institutes’ field guide. Students rotated between three interactive outdoor learning stations around Barton Springs Pool, and embarked on a guided “talk and walk” to Campbell’s hole.

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Community scientists led students through the stations to reinforce learning in classroom:

  • Susan Wall, Conservation Education Coordinator for the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department, gathered students around Eliza Spring to talk about the Barton Springs salamander and its importance as an indicator species.
  • Bill Bunch, Save Our Springs (S.O.S.) Alliance Executive Director, spoke to students about the Barton Springs pool history and the importance of the Edwards Aquifer to the delicate flora and fauna of the pool.
  • Jenna Kromann, University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences Masters student, guided students through hands on water quality testing of Barton Creek while discussing hydrology.
  • Peter Carlson, Univerisity of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences PhD student, led students to Campbell’s hole to sketch and learn about geological features of the springs.
  • Logan West, Margaret Cook, Jenna Kromann, and Peter Carlson, all University of Texas Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education, helped lead and coordinate students. This UT program pairs graduate student scientists and teachers from STEM disciplines in local school districts.

A big thank you to both Alison Mote and Rebeca Guerrero for their creative and collaborative work, as well as the community partners who offered their time and expertise.