October 23, 2012

Mobile-bed river will help ‘connect science’

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A partnership between faculty at SIU Carbondale and The Science Center of Southern Illinois will bring a mobile-bed river model indoors.

Funds from an Illinois Board of Higher Education Improving Teacher Quality state grant program is enabling purchase of a mobile-bed river model for donation to The Science Center of Southern Illinois. An open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new river model exhibit is from 4-6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, at The Science Center at University Mall in Carbondale.

The event is free during the two-hour celebration.

Faculty from SIU Carbondale's College of Science and the College of Education and Human Services are involved with the project and donating the mobile-bed river model. The project funds come from the Southern Illinois Partnership for Achievement in Math and Science (SIPAMS) -- a teacher development program that serves mathematics and science teachers in 26 partner school districts in the region.

The program aims to increase elementary and middle school teachers' mathematics and science content and teaching knowledge, said Harvey Henson, assistant dean with the College of Science.

Frackson Mumba, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Lingguo Bu, an assistant professor in curriculum and instruction, Mary Wright, a professor and distinguished teacher in the Department of Mathematics, and Henson lead the SIPAMS program.

The mobile-bed river models engage all students and encourage hands-on learning, Henson said.

The mobile-bed river models use a recycled plastic media "to simulate a wide array of fluvial and physical processes, such as basic sediment transport, meander development and migration, flood plain development, and delta formation," he said. The models can help overcome science teaching challenges by connecting science to everyday life."

Little River Research & Design of Carbondale built the EM2 river model, and donated materials and labor to provide special safety and other child-safety friendly modifications for the model for use at The Science Center.

Steve Gough, a hydroecologist and Little River Research & Design founder, along with SIU Carbondale scientists, will be available at the ceremony to talk with children and discuss use of the river model for educational projects. Materials for teachers and home school groups will also be available.