Hi! I'm a public high school teacher & homeschool parent (weird huh?). I think a list of Educational Experiences for K-12 kids would really help. I think group activities that are hands-on create meaningful and lasting memories that when educational create life long associations with permaculture & the science underpinning its application. Permaculture experiences will help students get excited about science again, apply it & make life better for everyone. These don't have to be just in a science class.
Part 1 - Mini Swale
In groups of 3-4, students will try and create a 3-6' long swale 6-8" wide by hand or with handtools. The teacher or students will use the hose to "test" their swale. Watershould pool up evenly, spreading slowly & soaking int the soft mound below the cut. Students will "fix" their swales until they are on contour.
Part 2 - Macro Swale
Same or new larger groups, students will create a 15-40' long swale 2-3' wide with an A-Frame, hammer, stakes, garden hose & shovels. Teacher will demonstrate the A-Frame & swale construction.
Part 3 - Reflection
What are swales for? (Tree growing systems)
Why do swales work well? (Water harvesting explanation)
Did you expect the contour lines you found?
Can you see the contour lines on the land? Why or why not?
What happens to a swale overtime?
What happens if a swale overfills? (sill)
What would happen if we put swales all over?
This is just one example. It could be used in an English setting (writing/communication/collaboration), History setting (earthworks & water harvesting in history), & Science (Ag, Landscaping, Environmental Science, etc.) It could even be Math if you had high school students who can calculate the maximum amount of rain per square foot and then apply it to the capacity of the swale to gauge what would happen in a 100 year storm.
Let's add all our ideas here. I'll keep posting them as I write and teach them. Thanks!
Grow Abundantly, Learn Daily, & Live Regeneratively
Are you looking for experiences that are rather short-term, that could be completed in one or two class periods?
How about testing water absorption with different materials:
Students receive buckets with drainage holes containing: sand, clay, gravel, compost, and a mixture of the above. Using a known amount of water, students saturate their soil material and see how much water drains out of each bucket. If you can extend the experience into a multi-day project, perhaps you could test again the next day and see if the results change when the soil material has been pre-moistened the day before. Or a "hugel-pot" could be constructed, with old wood/sticks in the bottom, to see how much water it holds. Buckets could also be weighed before and after being saturated, or right after saturation, and then 24 hours later, to see how much moisture retention each material has. Students can chart their results and speculate about the reasons for different results. I could see this being applicable for Environmental Sciences classes (to talk about run-off, watersheds, etc.), Physics, Geology, Geography (how does soil in different world areas react to rain?) Chemistry, etc., or just to teach basic scientific method skills.
If students are able to do long-term experiments (long enough to grow something!), they could begin experimenting with soil conditions. A control plant could be grown with average top soil, and compared to a plant grown with extra high-nitrogen compost, or one with too much carbon. Color, size, flowering and fruiting, and resistance to insects/disease could all be compared.
Is this the kind of thing you're looking for?
Collection of 14 Permaculture/Homesteading Cheat-Sheets, Worksheets, and Guides