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A number of activities are planned to promote systems-level thinking about salt pollution for students of all ages.

  • Pre-College: Fairfax County’s Watershed Education and Outreach Section develops water-resource based educational curriculum for the Fairfax County Public Schools, which serve more than 187,000 students in Northern Virginia. Through supplemental funding from the Sussman Foundation, graduate student Kaitlin Fausey is working with Fairfax County to develop age-appropriate experiments and lesson modules for K-12 students that illustrate the impacts of the FSS on human and ecosystem health.
  • Undergraduates: we will partner with VT’s Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) to offer single-PI Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs) for underrepresented minority undergraduate students from the Northern Virginia region. Starting in the summer of 2022, these undergraduates will take part in a “salt bootcamp”, which faculty, post-docs, graduate students and undergraduate students converge on the Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory (link to OWML website) for one week of training and lectures (spanning the full breadth of disciplines covered by the project, including stakeholders), four weeks of field and lab work, and a final two weeks of data analysis culminating in a workshop attended by stakeholders.
  • Graduate Students: Hands-on, community based, system-level experiences can help graduate students transition to leadership roles in academia and industry. Accordingly, our graduate students will participate in VT’s new Science, Technology and Engineering in Policy (STEP) certificate program (run by co-PI Schenk) to gain a systems-level understanding of environmental grand challenges, and take a leadership role in the design and implementation of our K-12 curriculum and the salt bootcamp.
  • Community Members: With supplemental funding from the Sussman Foundation, graduate student Caitlin Shipman is working with Fairfax County to develop targeted educational material on how individual homeowners and businesses can reduce salt usage, and thereby reduce the impacts on the Occoquan Reservoir.
Caitlin Shipman
MS Thesis Candidate, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech