This school year, students at Propel Braddock Hills are learning while making their community and city a better, more environmentally-friendly place. Through a grant from Starbucks and collaboration with GTECH, Propel Braddock Hills third grade and sixth grade students built a rain garden to help prevent Pittsburgh rivers from overflowing. This initiative is part of Propel Braddock Hills’ unique science curriculum: each grade level has been partnered with a community collaborator for a practical application component to the subject matter students study.
So, what does a rain garden at a school in Braddock Hills have to do with Pittsburgh rivers from overflowing? And what is a rain garden? And how does it improve the city of Pittsburgh?
There is an issue in Pittsburgh regarding storm water runoff and water pollution. Pittsburgh’s many rainy days, which average one-quarter of an inch, can cause raw sewage to overflow into the famous three rivers (as well as streams). According to GTECH’s Megan Zeigler, it only takes one-tenth of an inch of rain overflow to overwhelm a sewage system. When sewage systems are not treated and properly maintained, the raw sewage overflows into Pittsburgh’s waterways,that can show up anywhere from manholes in the streets to flooding in homeowners’ basements. GTECH states that, with the way Pittsburgh’s pipelines are designed, all storm runoff from every drain filters into one pipe. When overwhelmed, it can get ugly – not to mention smelly.
A rain garden is an eco- friendly solution to help prevent sewage overflow from happening. Rain gardens are planted depressions that allow rain/storm run off to be absorbed by plants and soil before reaching the drain. This can reduce run off through the plant and soil’s absorption into the ground, as opposed to flowing into Pittsburgh’s drains. In their science classes, Propel Braddock Hills third grade students were learning about plant growth and development, and sixth grade students were studying floating, sinking and energy, motion – units that include a partnership with GTECH. It was natural for the two grade levels to join forces, along with GTECH, and build a rain garden together. The high school students helped build the foundation and structure of the rain garden, and third and sixth grade students helped decorate, plant, shovel and complete the rain garden’s finishing touches.
Take a look at the media gallery below to see all the students’ hard work: