CW3E Participates in the 2nd Annual Yampa Youth Water Festival

September 27, 2023

El Knappe (left) and Jeri Wilcox (right) explain radiosonde launch heights to 5th graders during the grandstands opening ceremony of the event

On the 27th of September, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District of Steamboat, Colorado, hosted the 2nd Annual Yampa Youth Water Festival at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden, Colorado. Researchers from CW3E participated in this event as guest speakers during the grandstands opening event as well as by hosting a booth during the rotational part of the event. This festival brought together nearly 400 5th grade students from the surrounding Routt and Moffat counties. The goal of this festival is to introduce students to the importance of our water resources, particularly in northwest Colorado, through interactive and hands-on activities with the kids about the Yampa River Basin.

At this event, the Land-Based Field Operations Manager, El Knappe, and Field Researcher Jeri Wilcox joined the fun by doing a demonstration of launching a weather balloon at the opening event in front of the grandstands packed with cheering 5th graders. During this presentation, the researchers walked the students through what radiosondes are and the data that the balloon will collect. Following this, CW3E hosted a booth during the rotational segment of the event. These students got the unique opportunity to spend the rest of day rotating through 22 stations, learning about topics including meteorology, ecology, hydrology, and water quality, among other topics. These booths were hosted by a diverse group of organizations, ranging from the Colorado Water Conservation Board to the United States Forest Service. At the CW3E booth hosted by Knappe and Wilcox, students learned about the importance of taking observations and data collection for the scientific process, particularly when making weather forecasts that can have major implications for daily life. Students got to play the role of being a meteorologist by collecting their own data on weather conditions and synthesizing their results into a weather report for effective science communication. This activity was followed up by sending a lesson plan to the teachers that participated in the event which utilized their results from the booth activity as well as the data collected from the weather balloon launch done with the students.

The event was covered by local news outlets including the Steamboat Pilot & Today and Steamboat Radio

CW3E hosts a table for rotating groups of 5th graders where students collect weather observations and create a weather report for their peers based on real-time data

Jeri Wilcox (left) describes the balloon launch as Holly Kirkpatrick of the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District (middle) and El Knappe (right) prepare to release the balloon