Superior National Forest staff presented a version of a stream table lesson to students at the University of Minnesota in Duluth participating in the University for Seniors program.
A stream table model is used to demonstrate basic components of stream geomorphology and stream health. The stream table constructed by forest employees includes a battery-powered pump that directs water to a bed of sand, rocks, wood and other materials used to simulate different stream situations. Students learn about the fundamentals of stream geomorphology and correct terminology and how to identify natural processes that form streams. They are also challenged to use critical thinking skills to link physical habitat integrity to biological integrity and understand how human impacts can change streams.
The stream table is also used to help demonstrate the connection between national forest management and uses and conservation of the St. Louis River and its tributaries. Forest staff use a large-scale map as a visual to display the physical connection between the headwaters of the St. Louis River on the Superior National Forest and the estuary at the far west end of Lake Superior.
Students engage in hands-on exploration of various “what if” outcomes from different management riparian strategies in a forest setting and discuss implications of national forest management, as well as activities on other lands, within the watershed and larger landscape.
UMD’s University for Seniors program is offered to students ages 50 and older who want to either continue or broaden their education. Participants were keenly interested in the concepts presented and offered many insightful observations.