Teaching about the playas and the Ogallala Aquifer: Lockney Playa Festival

With scientific curiosity and bags to collect specimens, Lockney fourth and fifth graders explored a playa in Floyd County this past Thursday. The outdoor classroom setting is a key component of the Ogallala Commons initiative to teach students about their natural resources with a hands-on approach. Approximately 65 students joined in on the day's activities.

The morning began in the classroom where Dr. Darryl Birkenfield spoke about how playas work and mentioned the benefits they give to wildlife on the High Plains. Depending on the year, Floyd County can have between 1,200 and 1,700 playas. Floyd County has the most playas in Texas. After an overview of the playa systems, students visited a playa with water in it. Representatives from Wayland Baptist University assisted in collecting specimens from the playa, so the students could safely observe the species.

In the afternoon, a High Plains Water District staff member gave a presentation over the Ogallala Aquifer. Students learned how the aquifer works and about the soil particles that make up the aquifer. After the technical material, students made their own mini-aquifers. Materials for the mini-aquifer included: gravel, sand, water and food coloring to better see the infiltration in the soils.

We had so much fun spending the day learning about playas and the aquifer! Playas are the central recharge source for the Ogallala Aquifer, so both are very important to each other. Below are some photos from the day's festivities!