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Posted on: May 21, 2018

Broken Arrow science students to launch floating wetland

Tiger Creek floating wetland

Broken Arrow High School students launched a sustainable floating wetland during a ceremony on Wednesday, May 23, at Tiger Creek Nature Park as part of a continuing partnership with the City of Broken Arrow.

Last fall, the City of Broken Arrow and Broken Arrow Public Schools announced an innovative partnership to turn a detention pond across from the high school into an outdoor science classroom, which will ultimately improve water quality for that watershed.

Since then, students working with City staff have created an iconic floating wetland designed in the shape of the Broken Arrow Schools “BA” logo.

“Having an outdoor amenity accessible to our students provides opportunities for hands-on engagement in critical STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas, particularly dealing with ecological systems, environmental sustainability and water quality,” said Donna Gradel, 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and environmental sciences teacher at BAHS. “It also creates avenues for students to collaborate in solving real-world problems in their local community with expert mentors from the City of Broken Arrow and other professionals.”

The floating wetland measures approximately 75 feet by 45 feet and is believed to be the largest in the state of Oklahoma. Several local businesses have generously donated materials. Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. donated all of the PVC pipe and fittings, the Metropolitan Environmental Trust’s recycling center in Broken Arrow provided 800 2-liter bottles to help provide buoyancy and GNC Concrete provided the concrete pipe used for anchorage. Additionally, plants were provided by Grogg’s Green Barn and split from other City of Broken Arrow watersheds.

“We want to create something that is useful for the students at Broken Arrow High School and beneficial to the public in general, while at the same time fulfills our obligation as a City to control stormwater runoff and protect property within the watershed,” said Broken Arrow Assistant City Manager Kenny Schwab.

The mission of this project is to improve water quality by using wetland plants that will absorb the phosphates and nitrates from fertilizer runoff that cause algae blooms. Those plants will also add oxygen to the water and will eventually provide habitats for fish to spawn under.

“This is likely one of the largest collaborative projects between a community and a high school in the country,” said Broken Arrow Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Janet Dunlop. “We are so proud of our students for their dedication and incredibly grateful to our city leaders for their constant support.”

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