The 2013 Stretch Student Saga
Professor Carl Renshaw and 11 students just completed an unanticipated venture into the flood-ravaged canyons of Boulder, Colo. This was a detour in their 10-week off-campus odyssey known as “the Stretch.” Their original destination—the national parks—had been rendered inaccessible by the Federal government shutdown.
In a period of eight days, from September 9 through 16, Boulder experienced more than 17 inches of rain, amounting to what the National Weather Service called a 1,000-year rain, causing a 100-year flood. Houses were toppled and cars were carried away by the raging torrents rushing through the Colorado canyons.
“Although the Boulder floods presented us with a tremendous research opportunity, they were also catastrophic for many who live in the area,” says Renshaw, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and an adjunct professor in the Thayer School of Engineering. “So in addition to mapping the flood damage, we also spent a day assisting with flood recovery efforts. This was service learning at its best.
“The Stretch is experiential learning,” he says. “There are just things you can’t really do in the classroom, and there are problems you can talk about, but you don’t really get a sense of what it’s all about until you can see them.”
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photo courtesy of Carl Renshaw