Spring 2017 California Project WET Gazette
Volume XXll, Issue II

Getting the Ground Water Picture

It seems Mother Nature has a wicked sense of irony and a fondness for the old saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ After five years of drought, the skies have opened up with a deluge of precipitation that for some it may be starting to seem like it’ll never end.  Total precipitation was at 215% of average as of March 6th, with precipitation graphs for both the northern Sierra and San Joaquin watersheds trending above 1982-1983 – the wettest year we have on record. With the exception of Folsom and Lake Perris, all major California reservoirs are filled to above 100% of the average capacity for this date. I suspect Folsom is lower because managers are releasing water to create room for the volume of water frozen as snow high up in the watershed, which is 181% of normal to date – and 191% in the area including the American River watershed that will eventually melt into Folsom!

Flood waters have torn through residential neighborhoods, roads and both spillways of our largest dam, which has led to many Californians asking the obvious questions – Isn’t the drought over and why hasn’t the state lifted the drought restrictions? The U.S. Drought Monitor map indicates just shy of 75% of the state is free of any drought condition, but the state has refused to lift drought restrictions. On the surface, this just doesn’t make sense for soggy Californians still navigating around flooded areas and flinching at each new forecast of incoming storms, but the surface is only part of our water budget equation. Nearly 40% of California’s average annual water supply budget is based on groundwater – a reservoir that doesn’t exactly refill as quickly as water flowing downhill into a reservoir.

Water flow underground is a mysterious phenomenon for many adults as well as students, but the Project WET activity ‘Get the Ground Water Picture’ (p: 143) provides a great constructivist framework to guide students of all ages in exploring this phenomenon – a framework that already aligns well with NGSS performance expectations at multiple grade levels and can easily be enhanced with a few simple changes in teaching practice. Rather than starting with a discussion, pour water on a patch of bare ground and think about how that water is moving once it disappears from sight, then capture those thoughts by sketching a simple diagram or description of the water may be moving below the surface. Think of the likely questions students may pose from this simple observation – How fast is the water moving? Does it go straight down? How far/deep can it go? What kind of stuff (matter) will the water run into?

Eons of water flowing downhill in response to gravity has washed the constantly eroding particles of our mountains down into our valleys, where these material have been deposited in layers of gravel, sand and clay – a phenomenal process in of itself that is the subject of the activity ‘Just Passing Through’ (p: 163). Take a look at some samples of gravel, sand, clay – and I’d add soil to the mix, as that is what most of us see on the surface. Try sorting and comparing the materials by color, particle size, hardness, feel (i.e., slick, smooth, rough, etc.) and developing a simple chart to compare each category. Do any patterns emerge and are there other properties that can easily be investigated?  Taking the time to look at these materials enriches Part I of ‘Get the Groundwater Picture,’ as now students can use evidence from this step to back up their prediction on how fast they think water will flow through each material, then observe – and time – what happens. Does anything change if the samples are dry versus wet? One could go another step and freeze a saturated example of each material and observe each sample as the water melts. Students can use basic math skills and graphs to compare the results. Of course, the frozen samples may also lead to the question and investigation to find real-life examples of water underground in a solid or liquid state – and are there California examples?  

Part II of ‘Get the Ground Water Picture,’ has students simulating water droplets and gravel, sand and clay particles to help them better visualize why water moves at different rates through the different materials. This may be a good point to sketch out the arrangement of the gravel, sand and clay particles and describe how water flowed through each in the simulation and their observation of flow through the different materials – and compare these to those original diagrams and descriptions. This may also be a good stopping point for younger learners, while bridging into a bit more abstract concept with older students. Porosity – the space between particles in a given volume of a substance – is a key factor to how fast water can move underground. Standardize the volume of the materials above – say 250 ml sample of each – and place in a container capped at the bottom. Predict and measure how much water can be added to each sample before water shows on the surface, then how much of the water added to the sample flows out of each material – What happened to the water that didn’t come through? Is it the same volume of missing water for dry and wet samples? What is in the pore space when water is not? And what is causing the water to flow downward in the first place?  In addition to adding volume – and one could add a comparison to sample by weight – to measurements of time to analyze with math, older students could be asked to consider the energy driving the flow of water through the materials. This may be another point to dive into ‘H2Olympics’ (p: 13) to investigate water properties and develop an explanation for what happened to the missing water.  

Porosity may seem like a rather mundane subject, but it is estimated that between 850 million and 1.3 billion acre feet of water can be held in the pore space of the 517 groundwater basins found in California – that is more than 10 times that of all the state’s surface reservoirs and volume that would flood the entire state 8 feet deep if the entire state were flat! Well log data from drilling a hole into the Earth still provides the most detailed knowledge of the material structure, water depth and total depth of water bearing material in a given location – and Part III of ‘Get the Groundwater Picture’ provides simulated well log data and challenges activity users to turn the numbers into a visual representation of the sand, gravel, clay and water found below each well location. Each well log is placed side by side in numerical order just as if these were actual research wells drilled across a groundwater basin. Personally, I still prefer to have students use black pens or pencils to develop their visual well logs, then hand out blue pens or pencils to mark the water table in their well AND shade in all the pore space below to visually reinforce the table marks the top of the water found in the well. You can see the image that emerges on page 153 in Guide 2.0 or page 143 in the original Project WET Guide. Two aquifers are visible in the pattern – a confined aquifer trapped between the granite bedrock and impermeable clay layer and an upper unconfined aquifer freely rise to the surface if water enough water were to flow back into the system.  

It sounds like a soul-sucking creature out of Harry Potter, but that big drop in the water level is known as a ‘cone of depression’ – a feature that can develop as ground water is pumped faster than it can be replenished. Though the ever-present force of gravity is pulling water downward, the investigation in the earlier parts of the activity let learners discover for themselves that water rate varies based on the properties of aquifer materials it is flowing through. Demonstrated in this well log image is a large scale effect of these properties – i.e., quickly pumping ground water does not evenly draw down an aquifer as would pulling a plug in a tub or spilling water from a surface reservoir. Now, try to imagine what you are seeing in the simulated Get the Ground Water Picture’ image multiplied by somewhere between the 700,000 to more than 1 million wells estimated to exist in California – estimated because until June of 2015, anyone could drill a well and the resulting large mass of well log data was considered by law to be proprietary property, unlike in all other western states where this data is public and often searchable online.  How might the draw down of water in one area affect other surface water users and ecosystems? What consequences could occur if an aquifer is pumped down and not refilled for an extended period? 

Unfortunately, these questions are anything but theoretical in California’s Central Valley, where overdraft – pumping more ground water than can be annually replaced – since the 1920’s has resulted in a sinking of parts of the San Joaquin Valley by as much as 28 feet as a result of land subsidence. You may have actually observed a version of subsidence on a small scale as you were running water through the aquifer materials. It often happens, as it did in a recent Oroville workshop, the level of one or more of the materials will appear to be lower after the water has flowed out of the sample – this ‘settling’ of aquifer materials reduces the volume of pore space and you can get a measurable difference in how much water you can get back into the sample before it is saturated again. This is a version of subsidence, but the U.S.G.S. California Water Science Center can do a much better job – with graphics – explaining the subsidence mechanism in many of our large aquifers. A new NASA report shows evidence subsidence has accelerated during the drought with some areas of the San Joaquin Valley dropping as much as 2 feet between May 2015 and September 2016! Subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley is threatening the flood control, transportation and water conveyance infrastructure in the valley, including the Delta – Mendota Canal and California Aqueduct that millions of Californians rely on.

Subsidence is the frightening reality, but – like the current primary drivers of climate change – humans actions have created the problem, which means humans have the ability to correct the problem IF they choose to act – and the earlier, the less dire the consequences. Take another look at the simulated Get the Ground Water Picture’ aquifer image – Can you see any areas where water can easily flow back into the ground? What questions might you have regarding the agricultural and urban surface users? How about the landfill operation?  Enhancing the area around rivers where water can infiltrate into the ground, increasing the permeability of urban areas, systems to capture more water from storms, investigating the irrigation needs, systems and variety of food crops that can be grown in a given area and concerns about surface contaminants getting into ground water are thoughts that commonly come out of studying the simulated aquifer image – and though the activity as written does not include strong connections to secondary level NGSS engineering standards, it certainly sets the stage!

All of these ideas are among the breadbasket of solutions and concerns currently being evaluated in California – and a number of Project WET activities can guide further student study of these potential ground water management solutions, including ‘Storm Water’ (p: 395), which integrates study of urban storm water capture systems; ‘Back to the Future’ (p: 307), which investigates the pros and cons of developing a floodplain; ‘Color Me a Watershed’ (p: 239), which studies the impact of land use management on stream hydrology and ‘8-4-1, One For All’ (p: 299), which has students representing different water user groups in an attempt to craft a solution for a current water supply issue facing the community.

The ground water management concepts and potential solutions highlighted in the Project WET activities are not pie in the sky scenarios, but are being applied in real-life examples right now in California. I’ve included a variety of examples in the ‘Websites of Interest’ in this Gazette, but one particular example to note is the Water Replenishment District of Southern California. One would think an organization based in a climate annually averaging just under 15 inches of precipitation, serving over 4 million people who rely on groundwater for nearly 50% of their drinking water – which by their own admission ‘vastly exceeds nature’s ability to replenish these groundwater basins on its own’  – would be crazy to state a goal ‘to be completely independent of imported water by 2018.’ But they are doing it! Using storm water capture systems, enhanced water recycling technologies and forced recharge operations, the largest groundwater management agency in California is not only on track to achieve their goal, but does it while also addressing water quality issues and dealing with sea water intrusion into the aquifer. They are also very proud of what they do and provide education outreach opportunities to help citizens better understand ground water systems and management, including incredible professional development experiences for teachers that integrate opportunities to interact with actual groundwater engineering and operations staff, a tour of an advanced recycled water treatment facility and engagement in the Project WET activities to translate the experience to different grade levels back at school – and their next workshop is being planned for May 6, 2017!

So what does ground water have to do with drought declarations and restrictions on water use? Hopefully, you have a pretty good idea on the answer by this point – It takes time for water to naturally infiltrate into and begin to recharge aquifer water levels. Our winter storms have all but eliminated drought on the surface of California, but 4 plus years of hard pumping has extended the impacts of the drought deep underground – and I’ve heard estimates it will not be until this April or May before well data will begin to give an idea of how well ground water levels have been able to recover. We live in an arid climate with very good odds that our bountiful fortune on precipitation may not be repeated next year and a very wise, conservative approach would be to continue to conserve water – and there are lots of upcoming ‘Events’ and student opportunities to engage in conservation in the ‘Grants, Scholarships & Awards’ section of this Gazette!

In addition to the Project WET workshop at the Water Replenishment District in Southern California, Northern California educators will have a great opportunity to visit Santa Clara Valley Water District’s new advanced water treatment facility as part of a Project WET workshop in late April, and please see our list of upcoming Understanding Climate Change and Floodplain Ecology Institutes in ‘Professional Development Opportunities.’ You’ll also find loads of links on California ground water for your own interest and/or that can be shared with students in the ‘Websites of Interest’ of this Gazette.

Hope you enjoy a wonderful Spring!​


ARTICLE: The Enchanting Sea Monsters on Medieval Maps’

California Drought is a project of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, one of the world’s leading independent nonprofits researching and finding solutions to freshwater issues. The website compiles tools, research, and information on the California drought to facilitate the work at every level to understand, plan for, and find sustainable water management solutions in the face of a drier future for the western United States with changing conditions from climate change.

California Data Exchange Center

As part of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), the California Data Exchange Center (CDEC) installs, maintains, and operates an extensive hydrologic data collection network including automatic snow reporting gages for the Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, river stage sensors for flood forecasting, weather and precipitation data and of course data on current reservoir conditions

Water Education Foundation: Surface Water vs. Ground Water

The nation’s surface-water resources—the water in the nation’s rivers, streams, creeks, lakes, and reservoirs—are vitally important to our everyday life.Groundwater is an important part of the water cycle. Groundwater is the part of precipitation that seeps down through the soil until it reaches rock material that is saturated with water.

Groundwater Basics

This California Department of Water Resources website is intended for the general public, non-technical readers, teachers and students for an easy understanding of the basics of groundwater. Groundwater is a component of the hydrologic cycle. In simple terms, water or one of its forms-water vapor and ice-can be found at the earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, or beneath the earth’s surface. The hydrologic cycle has no beginning or ending location; however, it is often thought of as beginning in the oceans.

Groundwater Information Center      

The Groundwater Information Center is DWR’s portal for groundwater information, groundwater management plans, water well basics, and statewide and regional reports, maps and figures. California’s groundwater provides approximately 30 to 46 percent of the State’s total water supply, depending on wet or dry years, and serves as a critical buffer against drought and climate change. Some communities in California are 100 percent reliant upon groundwater for urban and agricultural use. The site includes a great overview on how wells are constructed and resources for well owners.

USGS: Land Subsidence in California

Land subsidence is a gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth’s surface owing to subsurface movement of earth materials. Subsidence is one of the most diverse forms of ground failure, ranging from small or local collapses to broad regional lowering of the earth’s surface. The compaction of susceptible aquifer systems caused by excessive groundwater pumping is the single largest cause of subsidence in California, and the 5,200 mi2 affected by subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley since the latter half of the 20th century has been identified as the single largest human alteration of the Earth’s surface topography. The second largest cause of subsidence in California is the oxidation (decomposition) of organic soils.

Understanding California’s Groundwater

Water in the West is a partnership of the faculty, staff, and students of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Bill Lane Center for the American West. Our series explores groundwater management in California through new research into key groundwater issues, interactive graphics and a synthesis of existing knowledge on groundwater in California, all designed to advance public understanding of this critical issue.

Commentary: ‘Farmers must stay engaged in groundwater planning’

For the next quarter century, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will shape how groundwater basins are managed. This management cannot only affect the cost and availability of groundwater, but may have implications for land use, crop types and regional economic development. The implications of SGMA are daunting and can seem overwhelming, but I am convinced that agriculture can continue to thrive as the law is implemented, so long as farmers and ranchers engage in the groundwater management process

Article: ‘Creative Incentives to Boost Groundwater Recharge’    

The Pajaro Valley, in southern Santa Cruz County close to Monterey Bay, is ground zero for high-value farm crops such as arugula, strawberries and cane berries. The area depends almost entirely on groundwater and is not connected to any intrastate transfers, so it has to rely only on local water resources. An innovative program in the Pajaro Valley offers landowners incentives to collect stormwater run-off to recharge groundwater. The program could be the forerunner of potential ways to successfully replenish groundwater levels across California.

Water Replenishment District of Southern California

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) is the largest groundwater agency in the State of California, managing and protecting local groundwater resources for four million residents. WRD’s service area covers a 420-square-mile region of southern Los Angeles County. The 43 cities in the service area, including a portion of the City of Los Angeles, uses about 250,000 acre-feet (82 billion gallons) of groundwater annually which accounts for approximately half of the region’s water supply.

Semitropic Groundwater Storage Bank                     

The Semitropic Groundwater Storage Bank is a proven, effective water storage system that began operation in the early 1990s. It is now one of, if not the largest, groundwater banking programs in the world. In wet years, participating banking partners deliver their surplus water to Semitropic. Currently, there are six banking partners who have delivered approximately 700,000 acre-feet of water to Semitropic, which is enough to supply about 1.4 million households with water for a year.

Orange County Water District – GWRS                      

The OCWD Ground Water Recharge System is the world’s largest water purification system for indirect potable reuse. The system takes highly treated wastewater that would have previously been discharged into the Pacific Ocean and purifies it using a three-step advanced treatment process that produces high-quality water meeting or exceeding all state and federal drinking water standards. Approximately 35 million gallons per day of GWRS water are pumped into injection wells to create a seawater intrusion barrier. Another 65 million gallons are pumped daily to our percolation basins in Anaheim where the GWRS water naturally filters through sand and gravel to the deep aquifers of the groundwater basin to increase the local drinking water supply.

The Kern Water Bank                                                                

Located on a large, undeveloped section of the Kern River’s sandy alluvial fan, the Kern Water Bank covers nearly 30 square miles over California’s southern San Joaquin Valley. The Kern Water Bank stores excess water supplies that are available when rainfall or runoff is plentiful by recharging that water through shallow ponds into an underground aquifer.  The stored water is then recovered in times of need by pumping it out with wells.

Article: ‘Why Floodplains Could Be California’s Buffer Against Climate Extremes’           

Groundwater recharge, flood protection and wildlife habitat all depend on floodplains. Now there’s a new movement underway in California to revive them in order to ease California’s dramatic swings between drought and flood. When rivers swell, floodplains absorb the excess flow, protecting cities built along rivers, recharging groundwater and providing vital aquatic habitat – all at the same time. When drought swings back, we can pump out the groundwater to serve farms and neighborhoods. Now a new effort is building to reunite rivers with their floodplains, a movement that could take the sting out of both drought and flooding.


California Project WET Workshops

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 has been hard at work designing and organizing workshops for the upcoming season, including Project WET workshops highlighting the role of water in gardens, water conservation, groundwater management, aquatic ecosystems, agriculture, human history and the Next Generation Science Standards. Click the link above to see the full list!

Understanding Climate Change in California

Climate change is having a profound impact on California water resources, as evidenced by changes in snowpack, sea level and river flows. These specialized Project WET workshops provide an opportunity for new and veteran Project WET educators to interact with California Department of Water Resources (DWR) Climate Change Scientists for a day of learning about the basics of weather and climate science, how DWR and other California organizations at all levels are applying this science to safeguard California water resources – and how Project WET activities can help you integrate climate science concepts and skills back in the classroom – Join us in Lake, Inyo, Merced or Santa Barbara Counties!

Sierra Crest to Coastal Ocean

Through the use of watershed models and remote sensing tools, Secondary educators participating in these workshops will explore the role of water in feedback mechanisms connecting inland watersheds from summit to sea. In addition to Project WET, participants will be among the first to be introduced to California Coastal Voices – the California Coastal Commission’s newest curricular resource for Secondary teachers – and built from the ground up based on California’s Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards with a strong focus on environmental literacy and project-based learning. Join us this Spring at Durham Ferry on the San Joaquin River near Manteca or the Hayward Shoreline!

Forestry Institute for Teachers

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! This FREE training includes all housing, meal and materials you will receive throughout the week. Register for a summer 2017 location now! 

Floodplain Ecology Institutes

Vast riparian forests, wetlands, vernal pools and grasslands loaded with once sprawled across a far more biologically diverse Central Valley that sprung from the seasonal ebb and flow of flood waters swelling the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and all their tributaries, from Red Bluff and Fresno to converge on the Delta. Come learn about issues plaguing California’s aging flood and water conveyance systems and the floodplain restoration can play in not only safeguarding our homes and business from flooding, but also providing other ecosystem services ranging from increased biological diversity to improving water quality – Join us in Stockton, Fresno, Woodland or Chico this summer!

Biodiversity in a Time of Drought

Explore the Sierra Nevada with scientists and K-12 educators during this 4-day investigation into the water cycle and the impacts of drought on biodiversity. We will start with the three dimensions of NGSS and then take a deeper dive into two cross-cutting concepts: cause and effect and systems and system models. Educators will learn how to analyze the impacts of drought on biodiversity and how to engage in the scientific practices of field investigation and data analysis. They will leave with an NGSS-aligned unit created with their peers.

Model My Watershed

Join the Central Valley Science Project this June 14, 2017 to June 17, 2017 Receive a $1000 stipend upon completion of this summer institute and course work. This NSF funded institute is a systems approach to solving watershed issues through modeling and hands-on activities for middle and high school students.  On line support course will take place through the school year, as will one additional day. Receive a set of Bluetooth watershed trackers and NGSS curriculum for your classroom.

California Regional Environmental Education Community

The California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC), administered by the California Department of Education. Click on your area of the state to see upcoming events in your region - or better yet, contact your CREEC Coordinator to learn about the a wonderful array of environment based professional development opportunities in your area they can’t fit on the web page!

California Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI)

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!


March 20 – 26, 2017: Fix a Leak Week

Are you ready to chase down leaks? Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Common types of leaks found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable, so we’re hoping you’ll help hunt down leaks in your own home and/or school during Fix a Leak Week! Use the Project WET activity ‘Money Down the Drain’ (p: 351) to find out how much that leak is costing, then race over to your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems, fix the leaks, and save valuable water and money.

March 22, 2017: #MyWaterStory

The Project WET Foundation is encouraging our worldwide network of educators and partner organizations to engage in #MyWaterStory, a global social media conversation culminating in World Water Day activities hosted by the Vatican. You can submit your water story using six water themes. The effort includes a teacher resource page with education materials from Project WET for K-12 educators who want to integrate discussions about the value of water into their classrooms.

March 22, 2017: World Water Day

Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of the issues involved in supplying freshwater around the world. Under the theme ‘Water and Wastewater’, the year 2017 provides an important opportunity to consolidate and build upon the previous World Water Days to highlight the symbiosis between water and wastewater in the quest for sustainable development.

March 22, 2017: ‘Getting Little Feet Wet’ Launch Day

In celebration of World Water Day, Project WET will be announcing the release of our new early childhood curriculum – ‘Getting Little Feet Wet!’ ‘Getting Little Feet Wet’ contains 11 interactive, hands-on activities for young learners (ages 3-6) to explore different aspects of water—from water properties to water sounds. Each activity was designed based on Project WET’s Water Literacy Principles, Head Start’s early learning domains and early childhood standards.

March 24 – 26, 2017: AEOE Statewide Spring Conference

The California Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education presents the 2017 Statewide Conference at Camp Jones Gulch in La Honda. Join us for 60+ environmental education workshops, keynote address, music, entertainment, exhibitors, job fair, and networking! Registration includes the conference, 5 meals and lodging or camping. Day use rates also available.

March 27 – 29, 2017: CA Farm to School and Garden Conference

The California Farm to School and Garden Conference will be held at the Modesto Centre Plaza in Modesto, California. The conference will offer a series of workshops and panel discussions around the theme ‘Connecting the Garden, Cafeteria and Classroom.’ The conference will provide great educational and networking value to attendees representing all facets of the farm to school movement, including farmers, distributors, government representatives, educators and food program administrators.

March 29 – 30, 2017: 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 Orange County third, fourth and fifth grade students about local water issues and understand how they can protect water supplies and the environment. The 2017 Festival has reached capacity, but you can host your own school water education festival using the Project WET activity ‘Water Celebration’ (Portal).

March 30, 2017: Project WET For the Next Generation

After two years of planning, correlating and review, the first round of our updated and far more detailed correlations for NGSS are set to ‘go live’ on this date! Our correlation and re-alignment process has created a document for each grade where Project WET activities correlate to or support NGSS performance expectations (PEs). The end result is 141 correlation documents for the 64 activities in Guide 2.0 with detailed information on how each activity meets each of the three dimensions of a given performance expectation. Look for correlations for Guide 1.0 activities later this year!

March 30 – April 2, 2017: National Science Teachers’ Association Conference

Join us in Los Angeles for ‘Sun, Surf & Science!’ NSTA conferences offer the latest in science content, teaching strategy, and research to enhance and expand your professional growth. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to collaborate with science education leaders and your peers.

April 15–23, 2017: 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! It’s all happening in your national parks. Get started on planning your spring and summer break travels! 

April 23 – 29, 2017: National Environmental Education Week

National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) is the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education. EE Week takes place over the week leading up to Earth Day each April, inspiring environmental learning among K-12 students, and beyond. Each year, EE Week events and projects take place across the country in classrooms, after-school clubs, parks, aquariums, museums, and other educational settings.

April 21 – 29, 2017: Creek Week 2017

Be part of an area-wide Creek Week volunteer effort to improve and enhance our urban waterways. Our creeks flow into the Sacramento and American rivers and taking action to promote stream 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: Just 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 29, 2017: San Diego Science Education Conference

The San Diego Science Education Conference is presented by and for  San Diego science educators and organizations, with a goal of helping teachers and administrators get ready for the coming changes in science education and get connected with the San Diego science education community. Registration is now open!

May 2017: California Water Awareness Month

From taking shorter showers and installing water efficient toilets and appliances, to transforming outdoor landscapes to be more California-friendly, Californians are showing that – rain or shine – saving water is part of the California lifestyle. During May, water agencies throughout California find creative ways to connect with their communities to promote water-use efficiency and provide practical tools. Check-out the Topics appendix in your Project WET guide to find great activities to tie in with California Water Awareness Month!

May 10, 2017: 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.  State scientists don’t disappoint, with a myriad of kid-friendly, hands-on displays showcasing the essential and fascinating work of state scientists. The event showcases the important work performed by state scientists to protect public health, the environment and California’s natural resources - and best of all, lots of science fun for everyone!

June 3 –June 11, 2017: California Invasive Species Action Week

The goals of the California Invasive Species Action Week (CISAW) are to increase public awareness of invasive species issues and promote public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources. Help us celebrate California’s Invasive Species Action Week, by volunteering to take action to help stop the spread of invasive species! Students can help us get the message out by participating in our 2017 Invasive Species Action Week – Youth Art Contest Don’t forget to check out the Project WET activity ‘Invaders’ (p: 263)!


Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching – Deadline: April 1, 2017

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 open for 2017 to honor teachers working in grades 7-12.

Voya Unsung Heroes™ Awards Program - Deadline: Apr. 30, 2017

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. For more information, visit

Ocean Guardian School - Deadline: May 1, 2017

Does your school have what it takes to help protect the ocean for the future? Promote ocean conservation at your school or in your local community by becoming an Ocean Guardian School. An Ocean Guardian School makes a commitment to the protection and conservation of its local watersheds and the world’s ocean by proposing and then implementing a school- or community-based conservation project.

NEA Student Achievement Grants - Deadline: June 1, 2017

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. The work should also improve students’ habits of inquiry, self-directed learning, and critical reflection.

NEA Learning & Leadership Grants – Deadline: June 1, 2017

Our Learning & Leadership Grants support NEA members who are public school teachers, public education support professionals, and/or faculty and staff in public institutions of higher education for the following purposes: Grants to individuals to fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences, such as summer institutes 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. 


Stockholm Junior Water Prize - Applications Due: April 15, 2017

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 and is designed to increase students’ interest in water-related issues and research and to raise awareness about global water challenges.

Gloria Barron Prize For Young Heroes - Deadline: April 15, 2017

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 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive impact on people, their communities, and the environment. The primary goal of the Prize is to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their stories will inspire others. The top ten winners each receive a $5,000 cash award to support their service work or higher education.

Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition - Deadline: June 19, 2017

The goal of the Bow Seat Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition is to reduce or prevent marine debris from entering our oceans and watersheds. We invite middle and high school students in the United States to participate! Enter individually or in groups to work together. There is no fee to enter and Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs is proud to offer awards of up to $5,000 to students and student groups whose projects most effectively raise awareness of and address the marine debris problem through creativity, community engagement, and activism.

2017 Ocean Awareness Student Contest - Deadline: June 19, 2017

We invite middle and high school students from around the world to participate in the 2017 Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest! This year’s theme is ‘Ocean Pollution: Challenges & Solutions’. You may choose to focus your work on one type of pollution, or the impact of ocean pollution as a whole. We want your submission – visual art, poetry, prose, or film – to make viewers reflect on the impact of ocean pollution, inspire them to consider possible solutions, and challenge them to take action. We encourage you to connect your submission to your own life, your local community, or something else that inspires and motivates you.


California Project WET Gazette is published by the Water Education Foundation, which serves as the state coordinator and host institution for Project WET USA, a program of the Project WET Foundation.

Editor: Brian Brown, California Project WET Coordinator

Water Education Foundation
1401 21st Street, Suite 200  
Sacramento, CA 95811

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