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Whatcom Explorer

Mobile Watershed​ Education


Children focus on a watershed model as an educator teaches

The Whatcom Explorer: Mobile Watershed is a hands-on educational tool that allows participants to connect with their local watershed and examine the natural movement of streams and rivers. The Whatcom Explorer is a place-based interactive watershed model with focus on watershed processes and function, land-uses with Best Management Practices (BMPs), and in conjunction with human and salmonid coexistence. Participants explore how streams behave under natural conditions and what happens when those conditions change.

The trailer contains a sturdy fiberglass, removable lid that is a topographic map of Whatcom county including Mt Baker, the Nooksack watershed and coastal environments.  This was created to scale by Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining; a process of using computers to control machine tools, like routers and Digital Elevation Model (DEM) files for geographic and topographic accuracy. 

Children ask questions to an educator above a watershed model.

The trailer sand-table is a large flat “land area“ composed of plastic grit.   Our modeling media is made of recycled, ground melamine plastic.  It has a density of 1.6, about 60% the density of quartz sand, which means it demonstrates river processes with impressive accuracy on compressed scales of space and time. The media is lightweight and easy to transport.  It won’t damage pumps, and it is much easier to clean than sand and other quartz materials. Water is then pumped through the trailer to create two “streams” that moves along the length of the trailer to a drain that cycles back into a reservoir to be pumped back into the system.


Funded in part by Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, ALEA Volunteer Cooperative Grant Program

Are you interested in having the Whatcom Conservation District visit your school? Contact Aneka Sweeney at (360) 526-2381 x103 or

Just like our water, the Whatcom Explorer has been all around the County!

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