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Science Museum River Models

South St. Paul High School students are getting a unique hands-on learning experience thanks to help from the Science Museum of Minnesota. The students are using river models from the Science Museum Lending Library to see what happens to river sediment and water when a dam is removed.

The river table models are a replica of the Elwha River in Olympic National Park in Washington State. This river was dammed in the late 1920s to create electricity but in the meantime disrupted the salmon population. The dam was in operation until the early 1990s when legislature passed a law stating certain rivers needed to be undammed and the Elwha was one of the first. Over the next 10 or so years, the water level in Lake Mills (the reservoir behind the dam) was decreased and the dam was removed in 2012. There was a lot of research to figure out the best way to remove the dam and distribute the 80 years of built up sediment as well as restore the natural habitat of that area. 

The South St. Paul High School has a membership to the Science Museum of Minnesota Lending Library. Classes have access to items, equipments, models, and kits that would normally cost schools thousands of dollars. SSP High School students have used many items already like telescopes, fossils, rock samples, timelines, and various models.


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