A project of the Water Education Foundation. Funded by
grants from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Mid-Pacific Region),
U.S. Geological Survey (California Water Science Center) and
California Department of Water Resources.
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The future’s in the air,
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change. ~Scorpions, “Wind of Change”
This song began playing in my mind near the end of the Project WET Coordinators conference in August, after learning more about the multiple changes coming to our organization. No, the changes are not comparable to the fall of the Soviet Union. But the song by the German rock band Scorpions captures the mood of many of us as we left the annual gathering: anxious and unsure, but optimistic about the new possibilities the changes will provide for educators across the country.
Here are some of the key changes:
Updated activities and four new guides! Why? Because the recent exorbitant rise in printing and shipping costs has made it too expensive to reprint and distribute the 3.3-pound Project WET Guide 2.0. Instead, we are publishing four smaller guides and updating the guides’ activities for the first time in 12 years, before current education standards were adopted.
The new and revised activities will stay true to the same constructivist design integrated into current science standards. It will be great to finally have our Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards work integrated directly into activities.
“Foundations in Water Education”: This guide will offer a dozen of the most popular and adaptable Project WET activities and is slated to be available by the end of this fall or early next year. This is expected to be a great introductory guide for many, including educators new to Project WET; budding educators and interpreters in college programs; and outreach or outdoor educators looking for a smaller guide loaded with engaging activities to teach multiple water topics.
“Weather whiplash.” This term has become a favorite in weather-related articles and newscasts, but I don’t think any of us in California fully understood the meaning of it until the last six months. California’s Mediterranean climate is naturally erratic, but in recent years the swings have been dramatic.
Many people know the childhood story of Goldilocks – the girl who became lost in the woods and decided to rummage through the home of a family of bears while they were away, testing their beds and sampling their food to find the one of each that was ‘just right.’
New Tools for Exploring Water – Past, Present & Future
Welcome to a New Year, Project WET Educators! The traditional season of gift-giving and thanks may have ended for you with the removal of lights and storing of decorations. But I’m hoping this Gazette may extend the season for you well into the New Year by highlighting a small treasure-trove of online tools and resources that have been recently released or updated – and can be used with Project WET activities.
The leaf buds on the blue oak outside my home office window are just beginning to swell with new life, even as spring wildflowers and daffodils are already on full display in the yard below. The flowers are all at least 3 weeks early this year, and the sea of green grass around them is already patched with large yellowish swathes of desiccation.
What a year this has been. Even before the shock of a how to function in a global pandemic has worn off, questions of how to deal with the virus, how education should be conducted this fall and how we deal with racial and social inequities in our society have boiled over on our streets and media streams.
“Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next…”
— Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’
I suspect I’m not the only one feeling a bit like Alice after falling through our own rabbit hole in March to enter a disconcerting world of digital learning. I’m sure many of us now have first-hand experience with ‘all the running you can do just to keep in the same place’ and figuring out how to do “as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” You may also have found yourself arguing with our own versions of ”I’m not crazy, my reality is just different than yours” Cheshire cats in regards to wearing masks or debating our course forward until a COVID-19 vaccine is found.
I must admit I was initially feeling very pessimistic for the future prospects for encouraging direct, hands-on learning experiences in a world already fearing bugs, dirt, heat, cold, air quality and a variety of other phobias outside one’s door. Add to that a virus deadly enough to be declared a global pandemic reinforced by two months of mandatory stay at home orders and one has to wonder how hard it will be for people to directly engage with the world outside ever again. But, pessimism has given way to marvel at the ingenuity on all the ways educators and parents have found to modify and adapt to the online learning environment, including the continued use of Project WET activities with their students!
“A rainbow of soil is under our feet; red as a barn and black as a peat. It’s yellow as lemon and white as the snow; bluish gray. So many colors below. Hidden in darkness as thick as the night; The only rainbow that can form without light. Dig you a pit, or bore you a hole, you’ll find enough colors to well rest your soul.”
“If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.”