Spring 2019 California Project WET Gazette
Volume XXlV, Issue II
“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.”
- Lyndon B. Johnson
It has been quite the winter! Torrential rains, flooding mixed with snow down to sea level and temperatures more consistent with polar regions in many parts of the state. It’s the kind of weather over many weeks that can lead many to think water is no longer a concern and forget that we live in a Mediterranean climate. Yet, just as certain as death and taxes, the wild, ephemeral nature of weather will yield to the longer-term trends of our climate like the dire warning in ‘Game of Thrones’ flipped on its head – ‘Summer is coming’ – and now is the time to assess our water and energy conservation measures.
Past spring Gazettes have delved into Project WET activities that engage students in defining their personal water footprints, conducting a water audit, calculating the cost of leaks and the water used by the plants in our landscapes; this Gazette will focus on an activity that can connect many of these conservation ‘dots’ and take students into a deeper study of human water use practices through time. And what better way to spend a cold, wet day inside than starting with a round of the card game of concentration!
This is how the guide 1.0 Project WET activity ‘Water Concentration’ begins. Students gather in groups of 2 or more (I usually have groups of 4) and begin with a set of ‘Water Concentration’ cards spread out upside down before them. Students take turns flipping over pairs of cards looking for matches, but the Project WET version of the game has a unique twist – students aren’t matching like looking cards, but card pairs that pertain to the same category of human water use practices through time. Human use practices highlighted in the cards include toilet practices, hauling water, washing clothes, bathing, preserving food by cooling, mobile water storage containers and dish washing.
Thus, card pairs showing a washboard in a washtub and a modern washing machine would be a matching pair; an outhouse and a modern refrigerator would most definitely not! Each water use category has 4 cards and the activity often generates a lot of discussion within groups as to whether any given pair represents a match or trying to figure out what the heck some of the ancient practices are being depicted in a card – don’t worry, the cards do include an additional clue that students usually pick up on far more quickly than adults to help them determine like pairs!
Once each group locates all the pairs, their next task is to match both pairs representing each water use category, then work as a team to arrange the cards for each category from earliest to most recent in time. Within the cards, students get a glimpse of the evolution of water use practices – from a hole in the ground to a modern toilet, water carried in former bladders of animals to present day water bottles, bathing or washing objects in rivers to our modern showers, clothes and dish-washers.
Students often have a mix of reactions from disbelief to horror with a sprinkle of knowing grins as students who have experience with the older water use practices see the reaction of fellow students who don’t. The activity does tend to spark the curiosity of students and both history and science teachers may find it of value to indulge student curiosity to research when each practice first appeared in time and what led to the change. History teachers – particularly in middle school grades – have reported breaking with the activity at this point to have students research deeper into water and food practices tied to disease prevention through time.
The second part of the activity has each student ‘Water Concentration’ team analyzing one of the water use practices through time. The questions guide the team in thinking about which version of the practice required the most time, what supplied the energy for each method, what was the necessity or desire that drove the development of each method, what resources were used to construct tools or appliances depicted in the cards and what waste materials were – or still are being – generated by each method.
Rather than a short write-up as written in the Project WET activity, a chart could be developed to look for patterns in needs or desires that have driven changes in water use practices through time. Disease prevention and convenience will jump out as the two major drivers in the change in practices over time, but discussion in the classroom often turns quickly to how much water, energy and other resources are used in making the modern appliances, as well as the waste generated once these devices are replaced.
The activity also has students looking at the same water use practices in their home and community, including how water appliances are being used and how the water and energy efficiency of each can be increased. This is the focus of the Project WET activity ‘Water Audit’ (p: 469),which includes a look at the benefits and costs of behavioral as well as technological options for improving the efficiency of water use practices. The knowledge on efficiency gained in ‘Water Audit’ can be added to the chart for each water use practice.
‘Water Concentration’ continues with students studying the pros and cons of each water use practice in time and developing an argument for the one they think has been the best practice in each category. Disease prevention and convenience remain important factors but gaining in weight are expectations for technology and practices that consume minimal amounts of natural resources from cradle to grave and are affordable to use for the broadest economic spectrum of citizens on the Earth. I wouldn’t be surprised if these elements are found in student arguments.
‘Water Concentration’ includes a suggested extension to have students apply what they learn to designing a fifth card predicting what they think the future of each practice will be. Elements from student arguments in combination with the chart generated on water use practices could be used as a basis to generate a rubric of expectations or specification for the next generation of water use practices. Students could also apply their rubric to additional activity extensions to research and assess new technology in the works for each category or use the rubric to flesh out the design for one of their fifth card predictions.
‘Water Concentration’ also tends to generate a discussion that some of the older water use practices are still being utilized in parts of the world and another suggested extension is to focus that student interest into investigating what water use practices are being used in different parts of the world and why. The activity suggests this could be the basis for students to develop a social studies presentation or a special school-wide event highlighting water and cultures around the world – or why not encourage students to tie the STEM and social elements of this activity together into an even more interdisciplinary presentation for a school World Water Day event in March or one for California Water Awareness Month in May?
Spring is the time to review our personal water use practices, check our conservation plans and check our outside water devices for leaks. Check out the “Spring Events” for more information on events like Fix-a-Leak Week, World Water Day, California Water Awareness Month and others coming up this season. Take a look at the “Websites of Interest” section for more information connected to elements of the ‘Water Concentration’ activity. The spring season also is filled with other opportunities.You’ll also find a list of “Grants and Student Contests” and please do consider attending one or two of the many wonderful “Professional Development” opportunities coming up this spring and early summer!
As ever, hope you have a wonderful spring season!
WEBSITES OF INTEREST
How much water do you use when you take a shower? Wash a load of clothes? Flush a toilet? Even brush your teeth? One important measure of water use is how much water one person uses in one day, or per-capita water use (per is Latin for by and capita is Latin for head). The number is usually expressed as gallons of water used per person per day. Fill in this form to get a rough estimate of how much water you use inside your home on a typical day.
Water is a precious resource that humans have sometimes taken for granted, but with the rise of public water-saving initiatives, an increased focus on personal responsibility, and the progress being made with advanced technology, we’re more poised than ever to fix that. Here are a few examples of some water-saving technology that, if installed across the world, would have a big impact on making sure our water supply doesn’t become depleted.
WaterSense labeled products are backed by independent, third–party certification and meet EPA’s specifications for performance and water efficiency. Just look for products bearing the WaterSense label at your local retailer to find and select water–efficient products that can help your wallet and the environment. When you use these water–saving products in your home or business, you can expect exceptional performance, savings on your water bills, and assurance that you are saving water for future generations.
Using water-saving techniques can save money and diverts less water from our rivers, bays, and estuaries, which helps keep the environment healthy. It reduces water and wastewater treatment costs and the amount of energy used to treat, pump and heat water. There are many opportunities to use household water more efficiently without reducing services. Homes with high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances save about 30 percent of indoor water use and yield substantial savings on water, sewer, and energy bills.
Article: ‘The Burden of Thirst’
If the millions of women who haul water long distances had a faucet by their door, whole societies could be transformed. In wealthy parts of the world, people turn on a faucet and out pours abundant, clean water. Yet nearly 900 million people in the world have no access to clean water, and 2.5 billion people have no safe way to dispose of human waste. Dirty water and lack of a toilet and proper hygiene kill 3.3 million people around the world annually, most of them children under age five. Where clean water is scarcest, fetching it is almost always women’s work.
Article: ‘Sewage, the trace of our history’
For over 10.000 years we have coexisted with an unavoidable attribute of our civilization: sewage, human waste that even today continues to be lethal for millions of people. Before the Neolithic period, when we were hunters-harvesters, we lived in a world in which everything was renewable. Drinking water flowed from sources and streams and the settlements only needed a premise: they needed a water source nearby.
Four years ago, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported the development of a revolutionary waterless toilet. One Nano Membrane Toilet can accommodate up to 10 people for no more than $0.05 per day, per user — in line with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s original criteria for the prize. Field testing will begin later this year. One challenge moving forward, which other designs have run into, is scalability.
One might imagine that before the modern age, humans were dirty and barbaric, not showering for days, weeks, or even months at a time. But of course history is never so simple, and plenty of ancient cultures had their own sophisticated bathing rituals — whether for hygienic, religious, therapeutic, or even social purposes.
The modern washing machine is less than 200 years old, but people were washing their clothes long before washers and dryers came on the scene. Ancient peoples cleaned their clothes by pounding them on rocks or rubbing them with abrasive sands and washing the dirt away in local streams. In colonial times, the most common way of washing clothes was to boil them in a large pot or cauldron, then lay them on a flat board and beat them with a paddle called a dolly.
The 1950’s are commonly referred to as America’s favorite decade: a golden age of consumerism, economic prosperity, and conservative social mores. While engrossed in the Cold War, the media propagated how wholesome American housewives could enjoy superior household appliances as a reward for the country’s endorsement of capitalism. In the spirit of the times, Popular Science published several features geared toward making kitchens as efficient, snazzy and high-tech as possible.
Water conservation has become essential in all regions, even where water seems abundant. In addition to saving money on your utility bill, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers, and local watersheds. Conserving water also prevents greenhouse gas emissions associated with treating and distributing water.The most effective way to save water is to upgrade to efficient fixtures. But there are other ways to help reduce the amount of water you use at home.
Across the world, communities are reviving old ways of saving or storing water—with promising results. The future of water security in Lima, Peru isn’t happening in the city. It’s happening 75 miles away and 12,000 feet up, in once-forgotten stone channels that pre-date the Incans. Peruvians are not the only people who have found that everything old is useful again; thousand-year-old water-saving techniques are being revived in communities in sub-Saharan Africa and India.
Improving urban water-use efficiency is a key solution to California’s short-term and long- term water challenges. Reducing unnecessary water withdrawals leaves more water in reservoirs and aquifers for future use and has tangible benefits to fish and other wildlife in our rivers and estuaries. In addition, improving water-use efficiency and reducing waste can save energy, lower water and wastewater treatment costs, and eliminate the need for costly new infrastructure.
Californians have made great strides in their commitment to water conservation and are embracing wise water use as a daily habit. From taking shorter showers to transforming landscapes with California friendly plants, Californians are showing that conservation still matters and that even the smallest changes can have a big impact.
Water efficiency is the smart use of our water resources through water-saving technologies and simple steps we can all take around the house. Using water efficiently will help ensure reliable water supplies today and for future generations. Best of all, everyone can play their part in preserving our nation’s water resources.
How do trees move water in some cases over 100 meters high with no pumps without the pressure required to do this turning the water into a gaseous, boiling state? Checkout this great, short video on this very question and how several common explanations stack up against the actual evidence gained from science. This is a great link for use with the Project WET Guide 1.0 activity ‘Thirsty Plants’, which was the focus of the Spring 2018 Gazette article.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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 and Project WET! A $25 registration fee includes all housing, meals and materials you will receive throughout the week – and an opportunity to receive credit and a $200 stipend! Register for a summer 2019 location now!
Our volunteer network of workshop Facilitators organize workshops throughout the year and you can always find the most current list of upcoming workshops on the Water Education Foundation website. Just click here to view the current roster, which includes an April workshop in the Napa Valley!
Climate change is having a profound impact on state water resources. Understanding Climate Change workshops provide an opportunity for K-12 educators to interact with the California Department of Water Resources Climate Change team for a day of learning about the basics of climate science, how California agencies at all levels are applying the 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 this Fall in northern Los Angeles, Solano or Riverside counties.
Vast riparian forests, wetlands, vernal pools and grasslands once sprawled across the Central Valley from the seasonal ebb and flow of flood waters swelling the rivers that converge on the Delta. Please join us for a wonderful professional development experience learning about the ecosystem services provided by floodplain ecosystems and their role within California’s flood control, water conveyance systems and ecological systems. Please check back in April to register for an institute in Sacramento, Fresno, San Joaquin or Butte county this summer!
The California Environmental Education Interagency Network (CEEIN) is a state government consortium of environmental educators from state departments and partner organizations. CEEIN maintains an online calendar, where educators can find a variety of professional learning experiences and participatory stewardship opportunities related to environmental education and environmental literacy offered by California agencies and their partnership network.
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!
The California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) Network is a program of the California Department of Education. The CREEC Network fosters regional partnerships throughout the state of California to promote environmental education and environmental literacy by providing teachers with access to high quality professional learning opportunities and education resources.
March 18 – 24, 2019: Fix a Leak Week
Are you ready to chase down leaks? The average household leak can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day, so each year we hunt down the drips during Fix a Leak Week. Common types of leaks found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable! Use the Project WET activity ‘Money Down the Drain’ (p: 351) to find out how much that leak is costing, thenrace over to your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems, fix the leaks, and save valuable water and money.
March 19, 2019: EarthEcho Virtual Field Trip
In honor of World Water Day and the kick-off of the 2019 EarthEcho Water Challenge, join EarthEcho International for a live, virtual field trip event – Water Journeys on Tuesday, March 19 at 1:00pm EST. This engaging virtual panel will allow students to learn about the importance of water quality and conservation via stories shared from EarthEcho Water Challenge partners leading water monitoring programs in critical bodies of water around the world. Register today!
March 22, 2019: World Water Day
Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of the issues involved in supplying freshwater around the world. The theme for 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind,’ as access to water underpins public health and is therefore critical to sustainable development and a stable and prosperous world. We cannot move forward as a global society while so many people are living without safe water. will show the potential of nature-based solutions for water and how they can be considered for water management policy and practice.
March 27 - 28, 2019: 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 29-31, 2019: AEOE Statewide Spring Conference
Join us at Westminster Woods for a weekend of “Teaching Outside the Box.” The Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education is the state affiliate for the North American Association of Environmental Educators. 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.
April 4 – 13, 2019: Creek Week 2019
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 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 20 – 28, 2019 : National Park Week
National Park Week is a time to explore amazing places, discover stories of history and culture, help out, and find your park! Parks across the country will host a variety of special programs and events. To kick off National Park Week, all entrance fees are waived on Saturday, April 20! There are also a few special days during the week to highlight the different ways you can enjoy your national parks
April 22 – 26, 2019: National Environmental Education Week
The National Environmental Education Foundation invites you to join the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education in the 14th annual National Environmental Education Week. Each year, NEEF partners with educators, students, government agencies, businesses, communities, nonprofit organizations, and others to inspire environmental learning and encourage stewardship of our essential resources: land, air, and water.
May 2019: California Water Awareness Month
Californians have made great strides in their commitment to water conservation from taking shorter showers and installing water efficient toilets and appliances, to transforming outdoor landscapes to be more California-friendly. 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 8, 2019: 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. It’s an important part of promoting state scientists with key decision makers and best of all, lots of fun for everyone involved!
June 1 –June 9, 2019: California Invasive Species Action Week
The goals of the California Invasive Species Action Week are to increase public awareness of invasive species issues and 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 stop the spread of invasive species, Find an event near you by visiting our list of 2018 Schedule of Events, check out the Project WET activity ‘Invaders’ (p: 263) and checkout this website for recipes on California specific invasive species!
NPR Student Podcast Challenge – Entry Deadline: March 31, 2019
Have something to say? Now is your chance! We’re inviting students around the country to create a podcast, then — with the help of a teacher — compete for a chance to win our grand prize and have you work appear on NPR. Put together a podcast with your class or extracurricular group. Then submit it to us with help from a teacher. This contest is aimed at students between 5th and 12th grade. Each podcast should be between three and 12 minutes long.
Stockholm Junior Water Prize - Entry Deadline: April 15, 2019
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition is the world’s most prestigious water-science competition for students. The competition is held in June in order to send the national winner to the international competition in Sweden in late August. It is open to public, private, or independent high school students in grades 9-12, that have reached the age of 15 by Aug. 1 of the competition year and have conducted water-related science projects.
Gloria Barron Prize For Young Heroes - Deadline: April 15, 2019
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes celebrates inspiring, public-spirited, highly diverse young people from 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 top ten winners each receive a $10,000 to be applied to their higher education or to their service project. The primary goal of the Prize is to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their stories will inspire others.
Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching - Deadline: May 1, 2019
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM, including computer science). This year’s awards will honor teachers working in grades 7-12. Applications for teachers of grades 7-12 are now open. Applications must be completed by May 1, 2019.
Ocean Guardian School - Deadline: Check website April 1, 2019
An Ocean Guardian School makes a commitment to the protection and conservation of its local watersheds, the world’s ocean, and special ocean areas, like national marine sanctuaries. The school makes this commitment by proposing and then implementing a school- or community-based conservation project. The 2019 – 2020 application will be on the website by April 1, 2019.
Bow Seat Marine Debris Competition - Deadline: June 17, 2019
Have you ever been upset to see plastic bags, cigarettes butts, and straws littering your favorite beach or park? Or maybe you’d prefer that your friends didn’t use single-use water bottles at all! If you care about marine debris issues and want to make a difference in your community, we invite you and other middle and high school students from around the world to participate in the Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition! Enter individually or rally a group to work together.
2019 Ocean Awareness Student Contest - Deadline: June 17, 2019
We invite middle and high school students from around the world to participate in the 2019 Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest! This year’s theme is ‘Presence of Future.’ Climate change is the biggest issue of your lifetime. Your whole life will be lived as the impacts of global climate change are taking place. Our Contest is a call for young artists, thinkers, and activists who are concerned about the future of our human and natural communities to use their creative voices to explore, express, and advocate for issues related to climate change and our oceans.
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.
This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Geological Survey under Grant/Cooperative Agreement No. G18AC00208. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Editor: Brian Brown, California Project WET Coordinator