Girl Scouts plant rain garden at Columbia Elementary

Jun 20, 2012
Photo by: Sara Bruestle Girl Scouts Satya Bandaragoda, Kelsey J. and Taylor Carlson time how long it takes for water to run through a cup of popcorn as part of an experiment that explains how rain gardens work. In the experiment, the girls examined how long it took water to move though different sized particles that make up soil. The popcorn represents silt. The girls also tested clay (rice) and sand (gem stones). For more pictures, click on photo below.

Local Girl Scouts helped install a rain garden at Columbia Elementary after school on June 8 with the help of volunteers from the Snohomish Conservation District.

In addition to planting the rain garden, the girls also rotated though five stations designed to help them better understand why rain gardens are beneficial. At the stations, the girls helped mark storm drains, conducted an experiment that explains how rain gardens work, painted plant markers and learned how to collect rain data.

The rain garden will act like a native forest by collecting, absorbing and filtering stormwater runoff from Columbia’s parking lot and other areas around the school – such as roof tops, driveways and patios – that don’t allow water to soak in.

Stormwater picks up anything in its path on the way to the storm drain, including dirt, oil, soaps, trash, grass clippings, pet waste, pesticides and fertilizers.

“The rain garden filers out pollutants, so that it filters out stuff from the parking lot before it goes into the nearby wetland,” said Lois Ruskell, outreach director for the Conservation District, adding that the planting and stations were the culmination of stormwater curriculum for the Girl Scouts.

The goal was to not only install a rain garden to protect Puget Sound from polluted stormwater runoff, but to teach the Girl Scouts about science by involving them in an environmental project where they can make a difference, Ruskell said.

The Girl Scouts and other volunteers are also going to help water and weed the garden during the first two summers, as well as and read a rain gauge on the weekends and in the summer. Columbia fifth graders will be collecting rain data during the next school year.

Sponsors of the rain garden include the City of Mukilteo, the Snohomish Conservation District, Mukilteo Wildlife Habitat Team, Mukilteo School District and the Mukilteo Girl Scouts.

Want to help maintain the Columbia Rain Garden? If you’re interested in volunteering in the rain garden this summer, contact Christina at 425-501-4191 or

Would you like to have a rain garden at your house? Contact the Snohomish Conservation District for free design help. Email or call 425-335-5634 ext. 112.

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