A Wish Come True: Thousands More to Learn Freshwater Science, Stewardship in New Education Pavilion

1024 579 Stroud Water Research Center

By Diane Huskinson

As the number of students, teachers, and citizens who attend environmental education and public outreach programs at Stroud Water Research Center has grown significantly in recent years, a new outdoor teaching space was added to its wish list. Now that dream has become a reality. Rittenhouse Builders are putting the finishing touches on the construction of an education pavilion that provides protection from the elements while still having direct access to nature and White Clay Creek, the research stream that flows through the Stroud Center campus.

A New Outdoor Space With Sustainable Features

In 2018, the education department engaged more children and adults in face-to-face programs than in any previous year: about 8,500, up from about 1,800 in 2015.

Education Director Steve Kerlin, Ph.D., said, “The pavilion adds a fourth outdoor space and is the only one that is covered, which will allow our educators to keep class sizes small even when there is a group as large as 120 students — what we affectionately refer to as a swarm. Other learning activities take place in and around our LEED® Platinum green building, along the trails, in planted forest areas, and sometimes in the stream.”

The pavilion has electricity so that students can plug in microscopes and compare what they see to what an educator shows them using a projector and screen. A metal roof protects against rain, sun, and wind. Ceiling fans circulate air on hot days. Sliding doors on the south side also protect occupants from the weather and will block distractions from the parking lot. Sustainable features such as a rain chain instead of gutters and permeable brick walkways instead of cement sidewalks allow rainwater to absorb into the ground rather than wash across the landscape.

Scout-Crafted Tables and Benches

Eagle Scout Sean McLaughlin Jr. led the design and construction of six eight-foot tables and 24 four-foot benches for his Eagle Scout project. With help from his dad, a contractor, McLaughlin designed the tables and benches to meet accessibility requirements. He then, over two weekends, led a crew of volunteers, including fellow scouts from Downingtown Troop 23, to build the tables and benches out of cedar.

Executive Director Dave Arscott, Ph.D., said, “The pavilion will not only aid in education programs, but it will also serve as a multi-use space for Boy and Girl Scout overnight environmental education trips, as well as for groups attending lectures or workshops as part of our freshwater research and watershed restoration public outreach.”

Congratulations to Sean McLaughlin Jr. on earning Eagle Scout rank. McLaughlin graduated from Downingtown High School East and is a U.S. Marines recruit.

The Stroud Center gratefully acknowledges the following donors, whose generous support made this project possible:

  • Davenport Family Foundation
  • Marmot Foundation
  • E. Kneale Dockstader Foundation and Arthur Hall Insurance (for materials for the tables and benches)

We would also like to thank our architectural team for providing in-kind donations or a reduced fee:

Help Make Projects Like This Possible

You too can help make projects like this possible by donating to our Special Gifts Fund.