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Water Festival wows students with hands-on experience

 Nautilus Elementary students learn how groundwater flows
Nautilus Elementary students learn how groundwater flows

For many of Lake Havasu City’s fourth grade students Wednesday was a special day of learning at the Third Annual Water Festival held at the Island Ball Field.

More than 450 students were wowed by hands-on experiments that provided an interactive exploration into groundwater systems, watersheds and surface water, water conservation and technology, and the water cycle.

The festival, sponsored by the city and hosted by Arizona Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) — a program run by the University of Arizona cooperative extension office — seeks to instill a deeper understanding of water in the earth system and Arizona’s water resources in young minds.

Pam Justice, UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, program coordinator for Arizona Project WET was pleased to see all of the students so engaged.

“The theme is learning about all aspects of water and our dependence on this valuable resource,” Justice said. “We want the kids to realize what we have is a limited supply of water and that we need to care for the water that we have.”

Project WET conducts 23 similar festivals around the state during the school year.

“We want the kids to know that they should be good water stewards and that they can bring that stewardship into the community as they grow older,” said Briana Morgan, Lake Havasu City water conservation specialist.

Per capita, Lake Havasu residents use 165 gallons of water every day.

“Water is such a big issue,” Morgan said. “The students need to learn, beginning at a young age, that natural resources, especially something like water is so important to us and our future.”

The Arizona Water Festival is not just for the students.

The program also engages teachers in professional development that helps them infuse 21st-century learning skills and STEM into the classroom while also preparing their students for the Water Festival community education event.

Prior to the festival, teachers attend a workshop geared at implementing a standards-aligned curriculum that prepares students for activities at the festival and broadens their investigatory learning after they return to the classroom.

Students are surveyed at the start and end of the water festival unit using identical assessments that measure students’ knowledge of the groundwater systems, watersheds, water conservation and technology, and the hydrologic cycle.

The heart of the Water Festival program is the one-day community festival event, which invigorates classroom instruction.

Hannah Lawson, long-term substitute teacher at Nautilus Elementary School agrees that fieldtrips like this give relevance to what is happening at school.

“The kids really benefit from the visual and hand-on experience,” Lawson said. “The festival really gives them a diverse learning experience. It’s just great to see them so engaged.”

 

(by David Louis, Today's News Herald - Feb 22, 2018)


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