EnviroScape - environmental education tabletop models for nonpoint source pollution, coastal, hazardous waste, wetlands, landfill, riparian, and groundwater issues EnviroScape Category: educational/test data sets, landfills, rainfall runoff, solid waste management, stormwater, surface water, water quality, watershed modeling, landfill model, hazardous materials model, coastal model, wetlands model, non-point source model, nonpoint source model, table top models, classroom models, educational model kits, environmental classroom models, environmental model kits


Last fall I did 26 presentations over a 3 and 1/2 day period,
each 20 minutes long. Needless to say, I had to clean up quickly
in between the presentations. I had a gallon jug of water each
day to see me through, and I used some of it to clean. Most
importantly (and accidentally!) I had a dark brown hand towel,
which didn't show cocoa stains I could quickly swipe off the
EnviroScape and be ready for the next group of 8th graders.


Showing motor oil: A college student in a Project Learning
Tree training said she had seen soy sauce used to demonstrate
motor oil on the roads.


The way that we have presented the EnviroScape with
great success is to "brain storm" with students before
using the EnviroScape
about issues concerning non point
solution. We brain storm with the question, "What are some
of the ways/things we have done to impact our water systems
/water ways?" After brain storming this question and listing
on poster paper these (usually one word) statements, we
then move to the EnviroScape and have the "students" begin
to discuss these issues and have the students demonstrate
the issues. In most every case that we have brain stormed
and then demonstrated on the unit, we have found that the
questions and examples can be matched up very well on the
EnviroScape. (takes about 45 minutes when time is a factor)


WalMart Foundation Environmental Clean Air Clean Water Grant Information. The application process is administered through your local WalMart store. Contact the Community Involvement Coordinator for more information.


Tips for Short Programs (20 minutes) for Models: With all the models you can pick and choose what elements (from the Users Guide and your experience) to focus on, depending on time frame, audience, key points. For example, you may pick a handful of areas/activities that represent the conservation principles or safe management practices and just focus on those to fit your time constraints.

If you have larger groups, here are some suggestions also:

  1. Perhaps a lower table with a semicircle with different height chairs (row sitting on floor, row sitting on chairs, row sitting on tables!?!) - or if possible, ask that sessions be in a science lab if graduated seating.
  2. Another idea would be to have a large mirror to reflect what was happening on the table from a higher place - this has been done in presentations to large groups at conferences - but may be too cumbersome/difficult to do in the schools.
  3. Of course, you can always rotate the front line - I have used 4 kids at once to apply something on different areas of the landscape - each saying what they had done, then 4 others add water - this cycle gives 8 at a time the chance to interact - but you would need teacher support to make it work. And, pre or post info to reinforce the ideas.

To keep felt strips from sticking, take the backing off and soak in clean water to get it wet. Also remove some of the stickiness by repeating sticking it to your hand and removing it. It take some of the stickiness off. Goo gone works wonders to remove sticky!!!!!!!


Showing nonformal teachers how to be more successful in the classroom. Last fall we did a day long training showing nonformal teachers how to be more successful in the classroom. One way is to ask open ended questions and let the audience "brainstorm" discussion questions, ideas and solutions. A question we used for discussion was from middle school science on earth science, "Human activities change the earth's land, water and atmosphere. Some of these changes decreased the capacity of the environment to support life forms." From this statement we brainstormed and wrote the comments on an easel. We then went to the nonpoint source EnviroScape and discussed these issues. It was amazing that all the brainstorming and issues that were printed on the board by these nonformal natural resource educators was able to be demonstrated on the EnviroScape model.


To show the chemical reaction that can occur when different types of pesticides and fertilizers are mixed from various uses on land. . . Take a small amount of baking soda and sprinkle on the landscape (primarily on the agricultural area but could use residential or industrial area, too). Add a drop or two of standard vinegar. A REACTION OCCURS. The baking soda and vinegar mixture bubbles up and represents a compounded chemical reaction. Add rain to the landscape and, if you care to, even test the pH factor as an added experiment. The emphasis of this activity is to show the cumulative effects of mixing unknown chemicals, the reaction that can occur and its effect on the watershed. Remember, this mixture is great to replace oven cleaners and other toxic household products! (Don't worry -- the materials are non-toxic!)


To show plastic litter and marine debris in waterways . . . use multicolored candy sprinkles, which float and look like mini-plastic bottles. In addition, Maureen suggests using chocolate jimmies to represent animal waste. What a combination.

Ever wonder how to get the pinkish tint out of your landfill collection pipes and tubes? Try soaking them in Formula 409 cleaner. It works like a charm and your pipes will look brand new. It also works on the Landfill trays.


Straw bales along roadways are easy to make and are often used for erosion control. Just get out a magnifying glass and sew the bales together using thread and small pieces of straw. Then place and reuse on the landscape as a BMP.


To show integrated methods for solid waste management, you can create management areas at your modern landfill for bulky materials, tires, composting windrows, etc. to represent the recovery programs you are operating. You can also move the recycling drop-off center to the landfill area if you would like to show a transfer site in its place. And, for home composting, use toothpicks to build a mini-composter for behind the residence and fill with real leafy material.


To show air borne pollution, bring along a small battery-powered fan when you are doing an EnviroScape demonstration. Use the fan to blow particles of drink mix or cocoa when applying to landscape. (Added note: baby power can also be applied from above with or without a fan to create a glossy-type residue on the surface of the model to emulate smog).

Mini-micro machines can be purchased at stores like Toys-R-Us, Walmart and K-Mart in sets that represent Marine activities, Trash collection, Automobiles and Construction. These sets are perfect scale to the roads on your EnviroScape model and may contain small people to enhance your display. But watch out, these are the things that find legs when you're busy!

To make trash for your hazardous waste landfill, tear up bits of an old egg carton or styrofoam.


Wet items: Following a demonstration, place the very wet items in a well-ventilated laundry or hosiery bag for them to dry. An onion bag works well, too!

A rubber band will hold the storm drain.

The MicroMachines set 65020 titled #18 Harvesters, which includes a '56 Ford pickup, a furrow machine, a tractor AND a small standing farmer and pig, is available in many toy stores.

For a working storm drain: Punch a hole in the plastic stoppers that come in your Nonpoint Source model, insert one in the vinyl tubing opening and you have a working storm drain that holds the storm pipe in place.

Use Cocoa Krispies for manure and oatmeal for crop residue.

Use real snow in the winter months.

Use a toothbrush to clean your buildings.

Cut your own felt pieces.

Use a Rubbermaid salt & pepper shaker for the cocoa and drink mixes.

Use sugarless Kool-Aid outside to avoid flies, yellow jackets, and clumps. You can also use water with food coloring to avoid insect problems.

Use sand or real soil for sediment instead of cocoa.


For carrying more than one model, use the nylon carrying bag for the different molded plastic landscapes and the heavy duty carrying case for the base(s), Groundwater Component and accessories -- you may even have room for handouts!

Use benzene (found in most hardware stores) on a rag to remove any sticky adhesive from felt pieces left on your model too long.

Use a rag instead of a sponge for faster clean-up.

Use film canisters to hold the drink mixes.

Recycle your onion bags and use them to carry your wet items.

A few drops of blue food coloring in the rain and groundwater makes the "pure" water visible and is pleasingly aquamarine.

If using food coloring, use rubber gloves!


Clay is a wonderful thing... you can use it to cover the groundwater holes in the Nonpoint Source model, to plant trees in various places, to hold the train more securely on its tracks -- and you can even use it to plug up any holes or crevices on vehicles that may leak.


For those times when you don't have enough staff resources at an exhibit, create a static exhibit with your EnviroScape by using photos to show the model and numbers to identify the text with the nonpoint sources on the model.

Use mini chocolate chips for manure.

Cut cotton swabs in half for Wetlands root demonstration so that it's more realistic and uses fewer swabs!

Make small clay rolls (logs) for a base to hold fence pieces. You can also make clay bases for animals so they stand up better.

Use model railroad landscaping material - Life-Like brand Grass (Model #1107), and Earth (Model #1109) for a realistic representation of soil and grass clippings. When the material reaches the lake as pollutants, it floats.

Recycle punch hole circles -- sprinkle them on EnviroScape for trash or use in landfill on Hazardous Materials model.

Become a house painter and spray paint your houses if they become dull after repeated use.

Try cinnamon instead of cocoa -- when purchased in bulk, cinnamon may be less expensive than cocoa.

Use rubber bands for holding in wells as well as for storm drain.


Use two EnviroScape models at the same time - one showing pollution and the other with BMPs in place.

Affix a PVC pipe to your EnviroScape model to drain the lake into a 5-gallon bucket.

You can build a lightweight stand with an overhead mirror out of PVC pipe as a stand-alone demonstration table.

Use a "Moisture Magnet," similar to a chamois, instead of a sponge. These can also be cut to a smaller size.

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