Spring 2016 California Project WET Gazette
Volume XXl, Issue Il
Drought still stalks the California landscape, but enough water has fallen around the state for a ‘greening’ of what was pretty much a yellow-brown, desiccated landscape at this time last year. In my area of the state, this resurgence of life has brought a flourish of wildflowers, wild hares, quail and other organisms that have been scarcely seen – and grass two feet deep that I haven’t missed cutting as often – in the past couple of years. It is these very observations of apparent changes in biorhythms across the landscape that scientists are trying to better understand and are asking the public to help document and contribute to the collective body of knowledge through a wide variety of citizen science opportunities. The BioBlitz in particular has become very popular in the past few years and is being highlighted as part of the National Park Service centennial celebrations this Spring.
According to National Geographic, ‘A BioBlitz is a 24-hour event in which teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible’ and they are encouraging citizen of all ages to participate in a BioBlitz this Spring whether one chooses to engage in one of hundreds planned nationwide or in your own backyard, local park or schoolyard. It is a wonderful opportunity for students to practice skills used by scientists in the field and study biodiversity firsthand and the National Geographic website includes activities to help hone student skills in making observations, recording data, classifying organisms and using a map – concepts and skills that are also integrated into a number of Project WET activities!
Two great activities for getting students to think about biodiversity on a statewide scale are the California versions of the Project WET activities ‘Discover the Waters of Our National Parks’ (p: 493) and ‘Water Address’ (Portal). As described in the recent 2016 Winter California Project WET Gazette, the California version of the National Parks activity gives students a ‘big picture’ visual introduction to California precipitation and climate patterns – two key environmental factors affecting biodiversity. In contrast, the California version of ‘Water Address’ focuses student attention on California bioregions through the lens of physical and biological characteristics of native organisms living in a region – organisms that also happen to be subjects of current studies integrating climate change, phenology and/or use of citizen science. The activities have students using different lenses, but dove-tail well when used together to introduce students to environmental and biological factors that influence biodiversity at different scales.
From the statewide scale, Project WET can help narrow the study of factors influencing biodiversity – and the focus of a potential BioBlitz investigation - down to specific ecosystems. ‘Salt Marsh Players’ (Portal) has students acting out the daily ebb and flow of life in a salt marsh – a wonderful way to prepare students for an investigation of the San Francisco Bay, Tijuana Estuary or other or salt marsh habitats along the California coast.
‘Life in the Fast Lane’ (Portal) engages students in a schoolyard simulation and builds background knowledge on the mechanisms of life in a vernal pool ecosystem, allowing precious field trip time to be used instead to investigate and apply this knowledge to a vernal pool location. Each of the activities above has students engaging in simulations to learn about environmental factors, biological responses and key interrelationships common to the ecosystems highlighted in each activity.
‘Macroinvertebrate Mayhem’ (p: 343) remains one of the most popular activities on and off campus to engage students in studying the interrelationships of freshwater macro-invertebrates and potential stressors in stream ecosystems, while introducing students to a common cast of organisms and classifications found in stream ecosystems nationwide. It is an activity commonly used with Elementary through Middle School age students before visiting a stream site to conduct a macro-invertebrate investigation. ‘Water Quality? Ask the Bugs!’ (p: 421) goes a step further and allows you to simulate a stream rapid bio-assessment survey in the classroom, allowing students to practice the procedures, roles and any local protocols you may want to add before ever hitting the stream - a superb activity for those considering a stream BioBlitz with Secondary students.
Of course, California remains in a drought and BioBlitz concepts and skills can be integrated with Project WET activities and applied to conservation, storm water run-off and biodiversity investigations on the schoolyard . A BioBlitz extension to ‘Rainy-Day Hike’ (p: 169) would have student teams identifying the landscape plants and associated organisms in addition to mapping the location of vegetation and run-off patterns on the school grounds.
Students could then study the transpiration rate of landscape plants using the Project WET activity ‘Thirsty Plants’ (Portal) and additional research to assess the water usage of schoolyard vegetation. Add the knowledge gained from a landscape ‘Water Audit’ (p: 469) and investigation of common ‘Storm Water’ (p: 395) Best Management Practices, and your students will have most of the key information needed to suggest schoolyard alterations that can help the school save on water, reduce and use storm run-off, while potentially increasing biodiversity.
Again, making observations, recording data, classifying organisms using a map are among the key concepts and skills learned and applied during a BioBlitz. Adding engaging simulations with Project WET activities to learn about environmental factors, biological responses and ecosystem interrelationships – and the use of water in a natural or human designed environment – adds to the depth of understanding of core ideas and concepts that are not only integrated into BioBlitz events and Project WET, but also well-woven into the fabric of the Next Generation Science Standards. It is hoped this article may inspire you to take advantage of a citizen science opportunity near your school – or at least have fun while introducing your students to some of the skills and concepts with the Project WET activities!
Check-out the ‘Events’ and ‘Websites of Interest’ in this Gazette for a variety of other citizen science opportunities for students this Spring and web resources to support these opportunities. You’ll also find additional information on student contests, as well as upcoming grants and other opportunities for educators under ‘Grants, Scholarships & Awards.’ Please also take a look at the growing variety of upcoming Project WET trainings scheduled around the state – and additional ‘Professional Development Opportunities’ that are coming up this Spring and Summer. Hope you enjoy a wonderful Spring!
Are you ready to chase down leaks? Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide, so we’re hunting down the drips during Fix a Leak Week. From family fun runs to leak detection contests to WaterSense demonstrations, Fix a Leak Week events happen from coast to coast and are all geared to teach you how to find and fix household leaks. Use the Project WET activity ‘Money Down the Drain’ (p: 351) to find out how much that leak is costing!
March 22, 2016 - International World Water Day
Many UN entities and organizations around the world work on water issues – distributing drinking water during disasters, protecting ecosystems, making sure that water is of sufficient quality, ensuring that our cities have enough water infrastructure, measuring progress of access to sanitation, looking at how we will have enough water to make food. The 2016 theme ‘Water and Jobs’ is intended to highlight the two-way relationship between water and the work involved in the quest for sustainable development and Project WET activities such as ‘Urban Waters’ (p: 413) or ‘8-4-1, One For All’ (p: 299) can bring the study of these relationships into the classroom.
March 23 – 24, 2016 – Children’s Water Education Festival
The Children’s Water Education Festival is the largest event of its kind in the United States and held at the University of California, Irvine. The Festival is a unique opportunity to educate third, fourth and fifth grade students about local water issues and helps them understand how they can protect water supplies and the environment. I’ve also heard from many who have attended it is a great place to view a lot of Project WET activities in action – or create your own water education festival using the Project WET activity ‘Water Celebration’ (Portal).
April 1 – 9, 2016 - Creek Week 2016
Be part of an area-wide volunteer effort to improve and enhance our urban waterways. Our creeks flow into the Sacramento and American rivers and taking action to promote creek health benefits our rivers! You will have a great time and feel great about the work you have done to help protect our environment, while also taking a break to enjoy these activities You may also want to run down the ‘Surface Water: Watersheds’ and ‘Quality’ columns in the Topics appendix of your Project WET guide to find great activities like ‘Sum of the Parts’ (p: 283) and ‘There’s No Away’ (p: 453) that tie directly into Creek Week!
April 9, 2016 - San Diego Science Education Conference
Presented by and for San Diego science educators, 2016 SDSEC is a high value, low cost conference. Speakers receive complimentary admission, exhibitors have the opportunity to present a conference session and lunch is included! This professional development conference is modeled on SDSEA’s Science Trek conferences and aims to help educators and administrators get ready for the coming changes and get connected with the San Diego science education community.
April 16–24, 2016 - National Park Week
National Park Week is America’s largest celebration of national heritage. It’s about making great connections, exploring amazing places, discovering open spaces, enjoying affordable vacations and enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks! Investigate the variety of National Park sites found throughout the country using the Project WET activity ‘Discover the Waters of Our National Parks’ (p: 493), then plan your visit by what you want to do or where you want to go. Browse the event calendar and check out the special programs offered throughout the week.
April 17 – 23, 2016 - National Environmental Education Week
National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) is the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education. EE Week works to celebrate all of the educators who are making a difference in the world of environmental education and STEM learning and provide them with the tools and resources they need to continue inspiring the next generation of lifelong environmental learners. This year’s EE Week theme is Greening STEM: Rooted in Math.
April 29 – May 1, 2016 - AEOE Statewide Spring Conference
The Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education is a state-wide organization that has been created for and by the outdoor and environmental educators of our state. Working as the state affiliate for the North American Association of Environmental Educators (or NAAEE) our volunteer run organization is charged with providing a diverse pool of trained educators that is knowledgeable and skilled at educating today’s youth about the natural world. Join us for the Statewide Spring Conference at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu!
May 2016 – California Water Awareness Month
As drought-parched California moves into another long, hot summer, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and other agencies are observing May as California Water Awareness Month. Details and conservation tips may be found on the campaign’s website and run down the ‘Conservation’ column in the Topics appendix of your Project WET guide to find great activities tied in to California Water Awareness Month!
May 18, 2016 - State Scientists Day
Each year, thousands of students from area grade schools come to the State Capitol for a fun-filled field trip to enjoy State Scientist Day. The event showcases the important work performed by state scientists to protect public health, the environment and California’s natural resources. It’s an important part of promoting state scientists with key decision makers and best of all, lots of fun for everyone involved!
June 4 – June 12, 2016 - California Invasive Species Action Week
California Invasive Species Action Week (CISAW) increases public awareness of invasive species issues and promotes public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources. Help us celebrate by volunteering to take action to help stop the spread of invasive species, Find an event near you by visiting our list of 2016 Schedule of Events or students can help us get the message out by participating in our 2016 Invasive Species Youth Art Contest. Don’t forget to check out the Project WET activity ‘Invaders’ (p: 263)!
WATER WE SINGING ABOUT??
Kevin Kopp has had a song in his heart for years. Now, the New Jersey environmental educator and Project WET Coordinator has put that song—and many others—into a format that others can use. With the support of the Project WET Foundation and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Kevin has produced “Water We Singing About?” – a 14 song album of water education songs to use with soe of your favorite Project WET activities!
The album is now available on CD and via digital download and includes a listing of the Project WET activity or activities that go with each song—20 activities in total from the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide. For parents or others who work with children outside of formal learning venues, the songs can stand alone as well, allowing anyone to enjoy learning about water through song. Order your copy today through the Project WET store!
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
The California Project WET program and our sponsors are eager to assist in supporting local professional development and water education outreach efforts. Our volunteer network of workshop Facilitators have been hard at work designing and organizing workshops for the upcoming season. You’ll find a full list here! We also have a number of special events and Project WET opportunities coming up this spring and summer!
Understanding Climate Change in California Workshops
Join the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Climate Change Team and Project WET for a day learning about the basics of climate science, how DWR is addressing climate change impacts on California’s water supply and how the interdisciplinary activities of Project WET can help you integrate climate science knowledge and skill back in the classroom! West Sacramento, Riverside, San Jose and Visalia.
These one-week institutes bring together natural resource specialists and K-12 teachers for one week, working side by side to gain a deeper understanding of the intricate interrelationship of forest ecosystems and human use of natural resources. You’ll walk away with a wealth of knowledge and environmental education curriculum- including Project Learning Tree, Project WILD and Project Aquatic WILD! A $20 registration fee includes all housing, meals and materials you will receive throughout the week – and an opportunity to receive credit and a $200 stipend!
The waterways and watershed of the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta serve as the backdrops for these summer institutes, which are focused on providing a deeper understanding of the ecosystem services provided by floodplain ecosystems in the Central Valley. Topics will include current water issues, NGSS aligned environmental science content and curriculum focused on floodplain, riparian and Delta ecologies. You will also walk away with a tool bag of valuable resources, including Project WET, the Education & the Environment Initiative (EEI) and other tools. College credit and a $200 stipend are also available – and space is limited! Stockton, Woodland, Fresno and Chico.
The EEI Curriculum is 85 K-12 grade units that teaches standards through an environmental lens, including understanding resources, conservation, where our food, energy, and water come from, and complicated decision-making processes related to climate change, green chemistry and use of our public lands. California examples make learning relevant and stimulate student involvement with the world around them. Click here to see a list of correlating Project WET activities to use with individual EEI units – and many of our upcoming trainings are integrated Project WET – EEI events!
The California Institute for Biodiversity will host this great summer institute for two weekends in June, the 17-19 and the 24-26, 2016, at the Green Meadows Outdoor School in Fishcamp. The institute will focus on connecting the Blueprint for Environmental Literacy and the new Science Standards to K-12 teaching practices, while investigating the Crosscutting Concepts of Patterns and Scale, Proportion and Quantity within and across California habitats. Early Bird registration is $279 per individual, with group discounts available until April 15.
The California Naturalist Program promotes environmental literacy and stewardship through discovery and action. The California Naturalist course combines classroom and field experience in science, problem-solving, communication training and community service. Students are taught by an instructor and team of experts who are affiliated with a local nature-based center or natural resource focused agency. A great course to expand knowledge and skills at the core of many Project WET activities!
MIDDLE and HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS! Are you looking for models that allow your students to manipulate variables and study the outcomes based on real-life scenarios? The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has developed just such a model and are looking for opportunities to work with you at an in-service day or workshop time that works best for you. If you would like to schedule or attend a training for using SWMM in your curricula, please contact Hunter Merritt or Rachael Orellana at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District.
The California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC), administered by the California Department of Education, is an on-line hub offering a searchable database of for a variety of resources, including professional development, field trip and grant opportunities from over 500 informal education providers across the state. Click on your region, then search the events calendar to find a wonderful array of environment based professional development opportunities!
WEBSITES OF INTEREST
The National Park Service is preparing a unique celebration of 100 years of service and conservation by looking at biodiversity across our nation. More than a hundred concurrent BioBlitzes happening at national parks across the country on May 20-21 as part of the 2016 National BioBlitz. Join us at a 2016 National Parks BioBlitz, a 24-hour event in which teams of volunteer scientists, students, teachers, families, and other community members work together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible.
Whether you’re participating in this year’s National Geographic/National Park Service BioBlitz or one in your own backyard, schoolyard, or local park, help students prepare to study biodiversity firsthand by practicing skills that scientists use in the field. Learn about Bioblitz by reading our article and watching our Do-It-Yourself Bioblitz. Our activities will help students prepare for their outdoor Bioblitz adventure by learning how to make observations, record data, understand classification and map their findings.
iNaturalist.org is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world. From hikers to hunters, birders to beach-combers, the world is filled with naturalists, and many of us record what we find. What if all those observations could be shared online? If enough people recorded their observations, it would be like a living record of life on Earth that scientists and land managers could use to monitor changes in biodiversity, and that anyone could use to learn more about nature.
The Learning + Education Group works with partner organizations to create and foster the development of educational tools and resources that encourage collaboration, participation, and in-depth exploration about biodiversity by learners around the world. Through creative partnerships with educators and institutions that support science literacy and in collaboration with enthusiasts and amateur naturalists, we’re bringing the powerful macroscope of the Encyclopedia of Life from the classroom to the great outdoors, from the desktop to the pocket, from the youngest student to lifelong learners.
Phenology is the study of seasonal or periodic biological events such as plant leaf-out and flowering, insect emergence and animal migration – put simply, phenology is the science of the seasons. The phenological status of plants and animals across the seasons is dynamic and is closely linked to climatic and ecological variables. Tracking the phenology of plants and animals is a compelling way in which to study how living systems are functioning in response to climate variability and, over the long-term, to climate change.
Seasonal change is all around us. We see it in the length of a day, in the appearance of a flower, in the flight of a butterfly. Journey North engages students and citizen scientists around the globe in tracking wildlife migration and seasonal change. Participants share field observations across the northern hemisphere, exploring the interrelated aspects of seasonal change. Journey North is a free, Internet-based program presented by Annenberg Learner, a division of the Annenberg Foundation.
Each day, bird watchers report tens of thousands of bird observations to citizen-science projects at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, contributing to the world’s most dynamic and powerful source of information on birds. If you enjoy watching birds, we need your help, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned birder. Participating can take as little or as much time as you want—you decide! We invite you to be a part of our community and get started with a citizen-science project today.
You don’t need to be an expert – you just need passion for the redwood forest and an interest in volunteering your time. Through our citizen science programs, Redwood Watch and Fern Watch, you can help us study where redwood forest plants and animals live throughout the redwood range, and track changes in the forest over time by making simple observations and sharing the data you collect. These data help Save the Redwoods League decide where and how to focus redwood conservation activities in a changing environment.
The School Water Audit Program (SWAP) is a real-world, relevant STEM education program designed to incentivize school and community water conservation through student-driven inquiry and students acting to install technology that saves water. Through the application of science and math, students investigate and quantify water use at school, study technological methods to reduce water use, then engineer and implement water conservation solutions. The Project WET activity ‘Water Audit’ (p: 469) was developed from this Arizona Project WET program.
WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, makes it easy for Americans to save water and protect the environment. Visit the website to get water-efficiency information and tips, learn how to check for and fix leaks, and more. Many WaterSense materials are available in Spanish. A website to explore when using the Project WET water conservation activities, particularly Water Concentration’ (Portal).
Save Our Water is a statewide program aimed at helping Californians reduce their everyday water use. The program offers ideas and inspiration for permanently reducing water use – regardless of whether California is in a drought. Browse our website to uncover ideas on saving water indoors and out. We can all make a difference in California’s water use by making simple changes to our daily habits!
World Water Monitoring Challenge™ is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies. Many people are unaware of the impact their behaviors have on water quality, but engaging in a simple water quality monitoring event is a great way to raise personal awareness – which can be further enhanced when paired with the Project WET activities ‘A Snapshot in Time’ (p: 377), Macroinvertebrate Mayhem’ (p: 343) & ‘Water Quality? Ask the Bugs!’ (p: 421)
The Next Generation Science Standards website has a new look! The revamped website has a host of new tools and resources that help educators as they implement the standards in classrooms. The site offers a more user friendly layout, extensive search features for all resources and additional functionality to access content including the NGSS appendices and performance expectations – including evidence statements and how to use them with students.
PROJECT WET INVITATION TO REVIEW
Project WET is engaged in a detailed correlation and alignment process to demonstrate NGSS and corresponding CCSS connections for all Project WET Guide 2.0 and 1.0 activities. We are looking for teachers, curriculum specialists and other knowledgeable educators to serve as reviewers for our work.
If you are 1) Experienced with using Project WET activities; 2) Have a good working knowledge of the Next Generation Science Standards and 3) Would be willing to review up to 10 WET Activity Correlations this Spring, Summer and/or Fall, please let us know!
You will be acknowledged for your help and time as a NGSS Reviewer and become an important part of our efforts to correlate Project WET activities to the NGSS. Your commitment would include a phone meeting with email OR webinar, to ensure that all reviewers are using the same procedure for review and review of up to 10 Project WET activities.
We understand that many of you may need to wait until late May/early June to begin, based upon your teaching schedule. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Erica Cox, Missouri Project WET Coordinator and Standards Committee Chair and let her know your available time periods for participating. Thanks for your time and consideration!
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of science and mathematics education. Nominations are now open to honor teachers working in grades 7-12.
Stockholm Junior Water Prize – Applications Due: April 15, 2016
The California Water Environment Association (CWEA) is looking for California’s best and brightest high school student to represent California in this global water research competition! The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition is the world’s most prestigious water-science competition for students. The purpose of the SJWP program is to increase students’ interest in water-related issues and research and to raise awareness about global water challenges. Click here o enter the California competition.
Gloria Barron Prize For Young Heroes – Deadline: April 15, 2016
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes celebrates inspiring, public-spirited, highly diverse young people from all across America. Each year, the Barron Prize honors twenty-five outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people and our environment. The top ten winners each receive a $5,000 cash award to support their service work or higher education. The primary goal of the Prize is to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their stories will inspire others.
Voya Unsung Heroes™ Awards Program - Deadline: April 30, 2016
For nearly 20 years, and with over $4 million in awarded grants, Unsung Heroes has proven to be an A+ program with educators. The program’s “alumni” have inspired success in the classroom and impacted countless numbers of students. Each year, 100 educators are selected to receive $2,000 to help fund their innovative class projects. Three of those are chosen to receive the top awards of an additional $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000.
NEA Student Achievement Grants – Deadline: June 1, 2016
The NEA Foundation provides grants of $2,000 and $5,000 to improve the academic achievement of students in U.S. public schools and public higher education institutions in any subject area(s).The proposed work should engage students in critical thinking and problem solving that deepens their knowledge of standards-based subject matter and improves students’ habits of inquiry, self-directed learning and critical reflection.
NEA Learning & Leadership Grants – Deadline: June 1, 2016
The NEA Foundation provides grants of $2,000 (individuals) and $5,000 (groups) to support public school teachers, public education support professionals, and/or faculty and staff in public institutions of higher education for one of the following two purposes: Grants to individuals fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences, such as summer institutes or action research; or grants to groups fund collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences for faculty or staff new to an assignment.
California Project WET Gazette is published by the Water Education Foundation, which serves as the state coordinator for Project WET USA, a program of the Project WET Foundation.
Editor: Brian Brown, California Project WET Coordinator