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Learning About The Island School Cisterns in Math Class

October 9, 2012

By Cate Ellison

In our math classes this past week, we have been learning about the cisterns around campus that store our water. We learned about the five cisterns underneath buildings that we are currently using as well as a cistern underneath a building under construction on campus that will shortly be put into use. Water is a resource that we use everyday at The Island School, and it is really interesting to learn how the cisterns work, and how our individual water use affects the entire water supply.

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At first, the idea of measuring our useable water based on the amount of rain, capacity of cisterns, and surface areas of roofs was a whole new concept to me, something that I had never thought of before. In our math classes, we talked about how daily rainfall multiplied by the surface area of the roofs that drain into the cisterns is the total volume of the cistern, but not the total useable water in the cisterns because we aren’t actually able to use all of the water in a cistern. The amount of useable water being different from the amount of total waster was really confusing to me at first, but last Friday, we went to the new building and in small groups, went into and measured the dimensions of the new cisterns and were able to see all of the pipes going into and out of the cisterns. Although I understood that there is a pipe that pumps water out of the cisterns, and we can’t use water underneath this pipe, it wasn’t until I was inside the new cistern and able to see the water level compared to the height of the outlet pipe that I understood what we were talking about in class.

The opportunity to go inside the cistern changed my perspective on water usage on campus. When we were inside the cistern, we were able to picture what it means when they say we have 60 percent water remaining. I was able to visualize what it means when there is 70 inches of water in the cistern. Now that I have been inside the cisterns and understand more about the way water works on campus, I am more conscious of the water that I am using, and hope that my classmates are as well.

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