Spring 2015 California Project WET Gazette
Volume XX, Issue Il
I’m sure a few of you reading the title of this article and the current headlines related to California water will be wondering if my brain may be suffering from lack of water as much as the state. The few storms we have had since December will allow the California Department of Water Resources to send a little more water to most State Water Project customers than last year, but the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a second year of a zero initial water allocation from the Central Valley Project for many agricultural users north and south of the Delta. Add to this the news March snow survey water revealed the Sierra snowpack is near a 25 year low, CalFire sounding the alarm early to prepare for another long and dangerous 2015 fire season and urban water conservation rates dropped dramatically in the first month entering a fourth year of drought. So what is there to celebrate?
Yes, our water situation is quite serious with some California communities once again facing the prospect of running out of water, but one can only take so much doom and gloom before people just give up. We know from studies of the past our ancestors around the world often faced far worse trials than we have to date with our drought in California. Yet, the knew the value of breaking the monotonous routines and renewing the spirit of the community through celebration – and the renewal of life, increasing activity of wildlife and ‘greening’ of Spring was and remains a cause for celebration around the world. Ancient or modern, water is as central as the renewal of life in Spring celebrations - and a little celebration may be exactly what is needed to gain some positive energy, renew our spirit and our community efforts at water conservation!
A Spring water celebration also provides an excellent educational opportunity. The Project WET activity ‘Water Celebration’ (portal) – or on (p: 446) for those with a copy of the original Project WET guide –provides a wonderful template for engaging students in planning a small school or community water festival. Doing the activities in class in the time leading up to the celebration will not only give them the opportunity to learn new concepts and skills, but provide a visual model of how the activity flows – before you challenge them to think what elements to keep or tweak for a celebration setting. This engagement in the planning process provides additional motivation and excitement to learn the elements of each activity and the challenge to assess, modify and apply what they learn to help teach celebration participants sets up one of the most powerful ways to learn anything to a higher level of mastery – i.e., learning by doing. Engaging students in planning a water celebration can also provide another welcomed benefit – combating the inevitable onset of ‘summer-itis’ that occurs sometime between the end of testing and the school year, often going viral in May which also just happens to be California Water Awareness Month!
‘Money Down the Drain’ (p: 351) and ‘The Long Haul’ (p: 273) are Project WET activities that already provide a strong water conservation focus within the existing ‘Water Celebration’ activity template – and provide great examples of what may need to be considered when choosing activities for a water celebration. ‘The Long Haul’ is a great ‘celebration ready’ relay race activity for kids and adults that definitely helps all appreciate our modern plumbing. Participant safety and minimizing water loss so as to not undermine the conservation theme of the overall celebration are two key factors student planners would need to consider – and if participants at the celebration would be as willing to engage in the short discussion on how modern plumbing has changed our lives and use of water as students were in class? Location of the activity and making sure ‘The Long Haul’ teams know volume of water as well as the speed of moving it will be key to a team’s victory are two caveats that usually take care of the safety and conservation questions.
‘Money Down the Drain’ on the other hand challenges the math skills of students and adults alike and students may need more guidance on how to present key elements of the activity in a celebration setting. In using the activity at community events, I’ve noted kids tend to be most excited about the process of measuring and calculating the volume of the leaks, while adults often leave the activity excited by the knowledge on how to decipher the units and rates on their home water bill and translate the volume of the leaks into dollars and cents. Yet, both groups tend to walk away with a greater appreciation for the volume of water they are consuming, as well as the value of that water – especially if one includes a rate comparison with other areas of the state and water sold in the open market of the grocery store. Try this activity in class during the week of March 15 to 21 as part of ‘Fix-a-Leak Week’ or for World Water Day the following week!
‘Money Down the Drain’ also includes a component studying the loss of water due to aging infrastructure and directions to build simple models for demonstrating loss and how to measure it –a very big issue in many of our municipal water systems that your local water provider(s) may be willing be one hand to discuss with adult participants after students demonstrate the concept with loss models they built. Conservation and public outreach staff from your local water provider(s) may also be interested in partnering with students on developing celebration activities based on Guide 2.0 activities – ‘swapping out’ activities on the existing ‘Water Celebration’ template to keep the focus on conservation. People of all ages are fascinated (and stunned) at the amount of water it takes to produce everyday products, which students are introduced to in the activity ‘Virtual Water’ (p: 289) – after investigating the quantity of water used in a variety of everyday products, challenge them to design a fun activity to introduce celebration participants to the concept. Another likely celebration activity is ‘My Water Footprint’ (p: 441) – younger kids love tracing and cutting out their footprints, while older celebration attendees are attracted to the pocket meters. If students are able to round up the materials and do some pre-preparation, ‘My Water Footprint’ is an engaging and relatively low cost way to get people thinking about the water they use. Many water providers offer free water auditing service to their customers and may be willing to conduct an audit of your school water use with your students as part of the activity ‘Water Audit’ (p: 469) and work with a student team to and discuss home water auditing techniques as part of a water celebration.
Water use in our yards still accounts for one of the single biggest residential uses of water supplies in California and the Project WET activities ‘Irrigation Interpretation’ (portal), ‘Thirsty Plants’ (Portal), ‘The Life Box’ (p: 69) and ‘Water Audit’ provide a range of ideas on how to highlight this water use for all ages in a celebration setting. ‘Irrigation Interpretation’ has student developing models to in order to visualize and demonstrate and charts to compare differences between irrigation methods – models and charts they could use again to share their knowledge at a water celebration. The classic dyed celery or carnation demonstration in ‘Thirsty Plants’ certainly grabs the attention of people attending events, but the sight of different plants with zip lock bags tied around and ‘sweating’ some of their leaves is even more eye-catching – and always starts a great discussion on transpiration and water loss. The activity challenges students to ‘develop a method to estimate the number of leaves’ on the plant they are investigating – which sounds like a statement straight out of Common Core – and provides a model for demonstrating how the process of transpiration works in vascular plants. Again, great knowledge and props your students could use again to share what they’ve learned with others. The ability to touch and play with materials are a hallmark of learning in the early childhood years – and conducting ‘The Life Box’ outside as part of a celebration makes it easier to do. Invite local garden center staff or U.C. Master Gardeners to the festival to demonstrate water efficient home irrigation practices and discuss drought tolerant landscaping. A landscape water audit may not be practical at a water celebration, but such an audit with a water conservation specialist was integrated in a recent Project WET workshop and just setting up the grid to test a sprinkler system was an enlightening process for all of us!
‘The Rainstick’ (p: 529) is featured in the ‘Water Celebration’ activity template as one of the art activities. It is a fun, but material intensive activity. ‘Water Messages in Stone’ (Portal) is a low budget activity to consider that has participants learning about pictographs and petroglyphs, while designing their own message symbol to the future on our water use in the present. This activity and ‘Every Drop Counts’ (Portal) are both featured resources as part of the California Arts Council’s Conservation Creativity contest for 4th sand 5th graders. The contest ends at the end of March, but student art from these activities could be displayed as part of a arts celebration area. The Project WET activity ‘Make – a – Mural’ (p: 515) is another great art activity to consider for a water celebration. A series of table tops or smooth wall, painters tape and drawing materials are all that would be needed and students could design the basic outline of the mural and be on hand to encourage water celebrants to add – who knows, the final product may be of a quality to replicate as a permanent reminder of the community’s relationship with water or at least could be hung in a prominent location as a community reminder to conserve water for as long as it lasts.
A little celebration in tough times can do wonders for rejuvenating a community’s spirits and efforts and I hope this article may inspire a few to take advantage of the educational potential in planning even a small water celebration to reenergize water conservation awareness and action in your school. I also hope you may take advantage of using a number of the activities in conjunction with a number of the ‘Events’ and ‘Websites of Interest’ highlighted in this Gazette. You’ll also find additional information on student contests focused on water conservation, as well as upcoming grants and other opportunities for educators in the ‘Grants, Scholarships & Awards’ section of this newsletter. Lastly, we have a variety of upcoming Project WET trainings scheduled around the state – with quite a few demonstrating the use of Project WET activities to highlight specific water issues or standards. You’ll also find additional ‘Professional Development Opportunities’ that may be of interest. Please celebrate responsibly (with the water) and have a wonderful Spring!
March 16 – 22, 2015 - Fix a Leak Week
Help us chase down leaks in your home! 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. 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, 2015 – International World Water Day
World Water Day is a day to celebrate water and make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues. 2015 World Water Day celebrations are organizing around the theme ‘Water and Sustainable Development’ to highlight how water links to all areas we need to consider for a sustainable future. Check-out Part II of ‘Money Down the Drain’ (p: 351) and using ‘The Long Haul’ (p: 273) to open a discussion water access issues around the world.
March 25 – 26, 2015 - 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. All presentations are taught to California Science Standards.
April 10 – 18, 2015 - Creek Week 2015
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. In addition to the Sacramento Area Creeks Council Creek Week, environmental stewardship opportunities are offered by other organizations in these communities.
April 19 – 25, 2015 - National Environmental Education Week
National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) is the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education. EE Week continues its multi-year focus on connecting the environment with STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) learning. Building off the focus on Technology in 2013 and Engineering in 2014, this year’s EE Week theme is Greening STEM: Surrounded by Science. Science provides the tools we need to better understand the environment. Through the scientific process, we observe, test, analyze and advance our knowledge of the world. Learn more on our website: www.eeweek.org.
April 17 – 19, 2015 - AEOE Statewide Spring Conference
Join the Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education for our Statewide Spring Conference at Walker Creek Ranch in Petaluma, CA.. We are state-wide organization that has been created for and by the outdoor and environmental educators of our state. The conference includes 60+ workshops or field trips.
May 2015 - 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. “As California approaches the summer fire season in the throes of a drought, I call on all Californians to take a thoughtful approach to water usage and conservation,” wrote Gov. Brown in announcing the month in 2014.Details and conservation tips may be found on the campaign’s website
May 13, 2015 - 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.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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 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 content specific institutes coming up this summer that can be viewed here.
Free Online Course: ‘Water in the Western US’
Join us on April 1, 2015 for the University of Colorado Boulder’s newest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The course will run 4.5 weeks, accommodates flexible schedules, and requires a total of 20-25 hours to complete. Over a dozen experts in water management, policy, and research are contributing to the course, exploring the scientific, legal, political, and cultural issues impacting water and climate in the Western US. Educators can earn graduate level credit by signing up for a parallel two-credit hour course through The University of Colorado Boulder’s Division of Continuing Education ($140). There are no prerequisites and no requirements for the course. We hope you join us!
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 environment – based curriculum, including Project Learning Tree, Project WILD and Project Aquatic WILD! This training includes all housing, meal and materials you will receive throughout the week.
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 public lands. California examples make learning relevant, connecting students’ learning to the communities they live in, and stimulating their involvement with the world around them. Click here to view a list of correlating Project WET activities to use with individual EEI units and here to take an EEI training!
The California Naturalist Program promotes environmental literacy and stewardship through discovery and action. The 40+ hour 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. Participants are eligible for four academic through UC Davis Extension. A great course to expand knowledge and skills at the core of many Project WET activities!
Ever walk through the grocery store and wonder where all the food we eat and the clothes we wear come from? Ever wonder how to teach your students about agriculture when there is so much to learn yourself? Experience a two-unit hands-on workshop you will never forget! Lots of resources and lesson plans for you and your classroom as well as for your garden. Tours, learn by doing experiences, and speakers make this a fun workshop for you and your colleagues!
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
Save Our Water is a statewide program aimed at helping Californians reduce their everyday water use.You’ll find water conservation tips, tools for calculating your water use, fun ways for kids to save water and to permanently reduce 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.
Aquafornia is a news aggregator, owned by the Water Education Foundation, loaded with California water news from both traditional and non-traditional news sources to present the many sides and views of often controversial issues, with the goal of fostering an understanding of various positions and discussion toward resolving the issues. The site is a great place for adults as well as students to learn about current topics – including the latest on California water conservation efforts.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water-Use Information Program is responsible for compiling and disseminating the nation’s water-use data. USGS compiles these data to produce water-use information aggregated at the county, state, and national levels. Every five years, data at the county level are compiled into a national water-use data system and state-level data are published in a national circular for use with the Project WET activities ‘A Drop in the Bucket’, ‘Choices and Preferences’, ‘Virtual Water’ and ‘8-4-1, One For All.’
The water footprint is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business. The website information on products is a wonderful supplement for the Project WET activity ‘My Water Footprint’
How much is your daily indoor water use? How much water do you use when you take a shower? Wash a load of clothes? Flush a toilet? Even brush your teeth? Enter your use data from the Project WET ‘My Water Footprint’ or ‘Water Audit’ activities, choose the submit button, and we’ll give you an estimate of how many gallons of water you used. NOTE: Our survey here is very general in nature…just to give you a quick idea of your water use, but we have links to more accurate calculators on this page!
How much water does a leaking faucet waste? Check your faucets at home — do any of them drip? Well, maybe it’s just a small drip — how much water can a little drip waste? This page allows students to enter their data from the Project WET ‘Money Down the Drain’ activity to help calculate the volume of water being lost, while also providing wonderful questions and links to pique their water conservation curiosity!
What is the water content of things? Water is needed to grow not only everything we eat but also to produce almost all the products we use every day. You can’t tell by the size of a product or the appearance of a food how much water was actually used to produce the item. This page allows students to enter their guess on how much water is used to produce some common foods and products and is a wonderful website to use with the Project WET ‘Virtual Water’ activity!
Start a School Water Audit today! Developed by the Arizona Project WET program, the School Water Audit Project combines water education with practical applications of scientific methodology. It brings community members together with students for the purpose of accomplishing a unified goal. It empowers students and adults alike to be responsible water stewards. Download the SWAP lessons by clicking on the download option inside your lesson bubble. SWAP water waste for water efficiency!
Welcome to Sprinklers 101! Water for our yards and gardens can account for up to 60% of home water use. Sprinklers 101 is a one-stop shop for homeowners looking for easy-to-understand information about how residential sprinkler systems work, information on drip irrigation and other smart ways to reduce landscape water use, as well as learn how to save water outdoors simply by changing the way you water your plants!
The UC Master Gardener Program designed the California Garden Web to serve as a portal to organize and extend the University of California’s vast collection of research-based information about gardening to the public. The California Garden Web focuses on sustainable gardening practices and uses a question and answer format to present solutions. The blog on this site highlights gardening issues pertaining to the season.
Aging and broken pipes, usually underground and out of sight, have leaked enough water annually to submerge the whole of Manhattan by 5 feet — enough to meet the needs of 71,000 families for an entire year. Leaks not only waste one of California’s most precious resources but damage property and cost money through lost revenue for utilities and higher rates for water users.
Take the virtual home tour to investigate your water saving opportunities in each area of your home. Click on each location to show you both the facts and specific advice. Visit the virtual encyclopedia of water conservation information for your home and select the area of the home where you are interested in learning more about saving water, including leak detection and repair, water use efficiency in and outside the home and incentive or rebate programs available to you.
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, and the website includes a For Kids section and a “Test Your WaterSense” game.
This website provides information on drought status, rebates, conservation workshops and interactive maps to help customers in the Sacramento region link to their water provider. Many local water providers offer rebates to replace older fixtures and appliances, such as toilets and clothes washers, with high-efficiency models. Check to see if your water provider is offering similar programs!
The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) is the largest statewide coalition of public water agencies in the country. Its 430 public agency members collectively are responsible for 90% of the water delivered to cities, farms and businesses in California. The website includes a feature to locate your water provider!
The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) provides a clearinghouse of drought-related information including maps, tools, and information to help people prepare for and mitigate the effects of drought. The California NIDIS is developing and demonstrating a variety of early warning information resources and strategies, in partnership with agencies, industries, institutions, tribes, and other major stakeholders.
California is wasting water, even when we don’t realize it. Our aging underground water pipelines—in some cases nearly a century old—invariably spring leaks, thousands of them that add up to 23 billion gallons a year in California alone. That’s enough water to provide for 71,000 households for a year, lost to these leaky sieves. See how water districts have come up with a methodical system for catching and plugging the small, hidden underground leaks.
As California farms and cities drill deeper for groundwater in an era of drought and climate change, they no longer are tapping reserves that percolated into the soil over recent centuries. They are pumping water that fell to Earth during a much wetter climatic regime – the ice age.Such water is not just old. It’s prehistoric. It is older than the earliest pyramids on the Nile, older than the world’s oldest tree, the bristlecone pine. It was swirling down rivers and streams 15,000 to 20,000 years ago when humans were crossing the Bering Strait from Asia.
NASA’s Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) mission, launched in February from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Project WET is helping teachers explain why it matters.Working with scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Project WET developed two classroom activities that explain soil moisture and the freeze-thaw cycle. They are available for free on our Resources page.
GRANTS, SCHOLARSHIPS & AWARDS
California Arts Council Poster Contest - Deadline: March 31, 2015
The Conservation Creativity Challenge invites you to harness the creativity of your 4th and 5th grade students while fulfilling state standards. Students are invited to invent fun and unique ways to reduce water use and illustrate their best idea with an original poster design. The contest aims to educate students about the serious matter of California’s drought, and to help raise awareness of everyday water conservation practices through the arts and creativity. Participating students are eligible to win prizes!
Presidential Awards for Excellence - Deadline: April 1, 2015
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 for 2015 to honor teachers working in grades 7-12.
Gloria Barron Prize For Young Heroes - Deadline: April 15, 2015
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.
The Farm Water Video Contest - Deadline: April 16, 2015
The Farm Water Video Contest is sponsored by the California Farm Water Coalition in recognition of Water Awareness Month and is opened to all FFA Chapters in California. The objective of the contest is to illustrate farm water use efficiency practiced by California farmers as they grow food and fiber crops for consumers in California and around the world. Winning entries will be posted to the California Farm Water Coalition website during Water Awareness Month in May 2015.
Unsung Heroes Awards Program - Deadline: Apr. 30, 2015
Are you an educator with a class project that is short on funding but long on potential? Do you know a teacher looking for grant dollars? ING Unsung Heroes® could help you turn great ideas into reality for students. ING financial services organization is offering 100 awards of $2,000 each to K-12 educators in the United States to help further their projects within their school or school system. Each year, three top winners are selected from the 100 finalists to receive additional awards of $25,000, $10,000, and $5,000.
CPF EcoTech Grants - Deadline: April 30, 2015
EcoTech grants are back! Sixteen (16) $2500 grants will be awarded to schools or non-profits organizations for the purpose of engaging children in inquiry-based projects in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that use innovation, biomimicry / nature-based design, or new uses for technology to address environmental problems in their communities. Application opens January 1, 2015 with rolling deadline through April 30, 2015 (as funds allow).
Captain Planet Foundation - Deadline: September 30, 2015
Grants are made for activities that promote and support high-quality educational programs, enable children and youth to understand and appreciate our world through learning experiences and engage them in active, hands-on projects to improve the environment in their schools and communities. CPF grants are limited to $2,500 and preferential consideration is given to applicants who have secured at least 50% matching or in-kind funding for their program.
Office Depot Foundation - Application period opens: May 11, 2015
The Office Depot Foundation supports activities that give young people tools to succeed in the school and in life through education and inspiration. An online eligibility survey and link to the grant application can be found on the How to Apply page. Applications are retrieved on a monthly basis during each grant cycle and are reviewed by a committee. Grant amounts will be a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $3,000 (very limited). The majority of grants issued are in the vicinity of $1,000.
Farm to School Grant Program
The purpose of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is to assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs.
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, Project WET Coordinator