Spring 2020 California Project WET Gazette
Volume XXV, Issue II
Water, Climate & Earth Day at 50
“At the far end of town where the grickle-grass grows, and the wind flows slow and sour when it blows, and no birds ever sing, excepting old crows lies the street of the lifted Lorax…”
– ‘The Lorax’ by Dr. Seuss
Earth Day began in a world swirling with images more reminiscent of a ‘Godzilla’ movie than a children’s book story that was still forming in the mind of Theodore Geisel fifty years ago this April. Smog choked Los Angeles and other cities around the world and DDT remained a chemical of concern a decade after Rachel Carson raised awareness of its effects in ‘Silent Spring.’ But it was images of Santa Barbara beaches covered in oil and dead marine life and Ohio’s Cuyahoga River on fire – again – that galvanized a growing nationwide concern regarding the human impact on the environment that led to the organization of the first Earth Day.
The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 mobilized 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — who took to the streets in hundreds of cities to demand a new way forward and action to protect the planet. The first Earth Day is credited with helping launch passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States, including the Clean Air, Clear Water and Endangered Species Acts and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency – all signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
“The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity…That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.”
- former Sen. Gaylord Nelson, co-founder of Earth Day
The first Earth Day was organized as a nationwide teach-in to raise public awareness on environmental issues as well as a call to action. It fueled a demand for environmental education activities embodying the ‘awareness to action’ model to help raise the awareness of adults and K-12 students alike. It was also important to education proponents that any activities build into a more complex understanding of the factors and viewpoints involved in environmental challenges. This demand led to the development of Project Learning Tree (1976), Project WILD (1983) and Project WET (1995) and the guiding mantra of all three – ‘Teaching students HOW to think, not WHAT to think.”
Even as the continued global loss of biodiversity, plastic pollution and water quality and supply issues are the focus of environmental action in the news, the specter of a changing climate looms over everything on a scale that seems more daunting than the very un-Seussian sight of a radioactive marine iguana the size of a skyscraper rising out of San Francisco Bay. Then again, even the first Earth Day organizers thought it would be generations before people would be able to make a significant difference on many of the major environmental issues of the time. Yet, 50 years later, one can kayak the Cuyahoga River, surf the beaches of Santa Barbara and breathe easier in Los Angeles.
Climate Action is the theme for the 50th Earth Day. The ‘Projects’ are partnering with the Earth Day Network to engage in national teach-in efforts across the country to help learners of all ages use our activities to better understand climate science, analyze and interpret science data, promote productive learning and discourse on the subject, and introduce learners to the array of actions that can be taken to promote climate resiliency through community action on local, national or global scales. Below are ‘Projects’ resources to help build your own climate teach-in to celebrate the 50th Earth Day.
“Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds…the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.” The current spread of Covid-19 is ushering in a spring eerily reminiscent of this quote from ‘Silent Spring,’ as our communities attempt to slow and disrupt the spread of this virus.
While the mass gatherings envisioned by Earth Day organizers are not likely to happen, many of us are being ordered home and/or will be conducting our courses online. Most of the climate actions highlighted in this Gazette are aimed at what we can do as individuals at home to support the larger community effort to build climate resiliency and many of the online ‘Projects’ resources below can be used to help build a virtual climate teach-in to celebrate the 50th Earth Day.
Teaching About Climate Change: Plants, Water and Wildlife is a free publication collaboratively produced by Projects WET, WILD and Learning Tree. The document compiles our collective activities that are being used to teach about climate change to help educators quickly identify potential activities to use by grade level and activity guide. The resources listed in this document are meant to help educators teach about climate change in a holistic way, provide students with engaging educational experiences and help them understand climate resilience for communities and the environment.
Climate Resilience Lesson Plan provides Project WET educators with additional resources such as data sets and maps to engage students in studying climate challenges using existing activities.Information in the Climate Resilience Lesson Plan is meant to help promote a basic understanding of climate challenges. The activities in this lesson plan are not presented in their entirety, as it is intended for educators who have attended a workshop and have access to the activities.
Climate Educator Training. Project WET is teaming up with Project WILD and the National Wildlife Federation to launch a FREE online training for educators on climate on March 23, 2020. This self-paced course will prepare you to lead your students in a full week of climate education. Educators completing the course will receive access to two activities from the new Project WET Climate, Water and Resilience Educator Guide, plus Project WILD and National Wildlife Federation resources. Sign up to reserve your spot today!
Project Learning Tree resources, including a Carbon & Climate e-unit, explore both the scientific and the social aspects of climate change. Who Speaks for the Trees? is a resource designed to follow a reading or viewing of ‘The Lorax’ to engage students in exploring the inherent value of forests, the importance of sustainable forest management and other topics related to the story. PLT also has a free, downloadable package of Project Learning Tree activities to encourage parents and children to spend time in forests and reconnect with nature.
From the beginning, ‘Project’ activities have been designed to target concepts and skills that students of any age can apply to the study of environmental challenges. Many of the activities include opportunities to transform learning into action. The Websites of Interest section of this Gazette includes links highlighting actions that can and are being taken to develop more climate resilient communities, as well as more about the history leading to the first Earth Day.
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 in the next few months. Join us for one or more of the wonderful Professional Development Opportunities coming up later this spring through summer. You’ll also find a list of Grants & Student Contest opportunities, and please consider sharing how you’ve used Project WET activities to teach about water.
“There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more.”
- former Sen. Gaylord Nelson, co-founder of Earth Day
March 16 – 22, 2020: Fix a Leak Week
DID YOU KNOW – The average household leak can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day! Help hunt down the drips in your house 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!
March 22, 2020: World Water Day
‘Water and Climate Change’ is the theme for World Water Day 2020. Humans need water to survive, as do all the sanitation, healthcare, water, business and industry systems we rely on. Extreme weather events are making water scarcer, more unpredictable, more polluted or all three. Climate change can feel scary and daunting. But there is one simple step you can take immediately that will make a big difference: don’t waste water!
March 25 – 26, 2020: 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. (Cancelled)
March 26 – 27, 2020: CA Farm to School Conference
The 2020 California Farm to School and School Garden Conference is being rescheduled from March 26-27 2020 to late summer 2020. Please visit our Eventbrite page for updates or contact Nick Anicich, Farm to School Program Lead with CDFA for more information.
April 9 – 18, 2020: Creek Week 2020
Our creeks flow into the Sacramento and American rivers! Be part of an area-wide volunteer effort to improve our urban waterways. 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 a variety of activities. Just run down the ‘Surface Water: Watersheds’ and ‘Quality’ columns in the Topics appendix of your Project WET guide to find great activities that tie directly into Creek Week!
April 18 – 26, 2020: National Park Week
Join with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to celebrate America’s treasures. 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. All entrance fees are waived on Saturday, April 18! There are also a few special days during the week to highlight the different ways you can enjoy your national parks
April 20 – 24, 2020: National Environmental Education Week
Join the National Environmental Education Foundation in the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education. To celebrate National Environmental Education Week, visit the Greening STEM Hub, which provides educators with the information and resources they need to deliver high-quality STEM education by tackling real-world challenges and engaging students with the natural environment.
April 22, 2020: 50th Anniversary of Earth Day
Climate change represents the single biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. Climate Action is the theme for Earth Day 2020, a historic opportunity for citizens of the world to rise up in a united call for action to meet our climate crisis head-on and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.
May 1-3, 2020: AEOE Statewide Spring Conference
The spring statewide conference is AEOE’s signature event, bringing together environmental and outdoor education professionals from across California to participate in professional learning workshops, a job fair and networking opportunities. Please note: We recognize the COVID-19 virus is an ongoing concern. For more information, please see AEOE’s Precautionary Statement.
May 2020: California Water Awareness Month
Rain or shine, Californians always need to use their water wisely. As we head into the dry summer months in California, the month of May is a time to show our appreciation for the water that fuels our economy and sustains our ecosystems. Learn what you can do to conserve water inside and outside of your home. Rebates are still available to transform your lawn to a water-wise garden.
May 6, 2020: State Scientist’s Day
For over 30 years, state scientists have come together to show 3rd – 6th grade students the work that real-life scientists do to protect public health and the environment in a hands-on, exciting, fun way. The event takes place on the West Steps of the State Capitol on State Scientist Day, an officially recognized day set each year by a Legislative Resolution.
June 6 –June 14, 2020: California Invasive Species Action Week
California Invasive Species Action Week (CISAW) increases public awareness of invasive species issues and public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources. Celebrate the week by volunteering to help stop the spread of invasive species. Find an event near you! Check out the Project WET activity ‘Invaders’ (p: 263) – and this website for recipes on California specific invasive species!
WEBSITES OF INTEREST
On January 28, 1969, an oil well off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., experienced a blowout. The result was an oil spill that ranked as the largest in U.S. waters at the time. The disaster made headlines across the nation, led to restrictions on offshore drilling and helped create the modern environmental movement.
Article: ‘The Cuyahoga’s Comeback’
Fifty years ago last June, sparks from a train ignited the greasy surface of Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River. The river was one of the most polluted waterways in the country. In fact, the Cuyahoga had burned at least 13 times since the 1860s. Two months after the 1969 fire, Time magazine ran an article about water pollution and famously declared that the Cuyahoga “oozes rather than flows.”
In 1943, the first big smog scare sent residents running from what they assumed was a Japanese gas attack. The city’s once clear coastal air had become a tear-inducing haze, and no one knew what was causing it. At the time, scientists were only beginning to understand the impact of industry and development on the environment.
Before humanity ventured to the Moon, our view of our home planet consisted of what we could see from horizon to horizon. It was not until this stunning photo (along with many others) came back to Earth with the Apollo 8 astronauts in late December 1968 that we saw our planet framed against the black emptiness of eternal space and appreciate its beauty as well as its utter insignificance in the universe.
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) researches and presents indicators in periodic reports describing how California’s climate is changing and how these changes are affecting the state. Indicators are scientifically based measurements that track trends in various aspects of climate change.
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
- Jane Goodall, Scientist
Each solution highlighted on this website reduces greenhouse gases by avoiding emissions and/or by sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. Buried within this trove of solutions are many that individuals can take and/or champion as a community of citizens at the local to global level – including installing LED lighting, better insulation, smart thermostats or high efficiency heat pumps; recycling; reducing food waste and adopting a more plant-rich diet and using carpooling, hybrid or electric cars, bikes, trains, and other forms of public transit as often as possible.
ENERGY STAR is the simple choice for energy efficiency, making it easy for consumers and businesses to purchase products that save them money and protect the environment. Since 1992, ENERGY STAR and its partners helped save American families and businesses nearly 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity and achieve over 3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions, equivalent to the annual emissions of over 600 million cars.
Using water at home consumes energy. In California, 30 to 60 percent of home water use occurs outdoors, while another 10 percent is lost to leaks. Spring is the time to review our personal water use practices, replace older fixtures with new low-flow versions, check our outside water devices for leaks and consider our choices of landscape plants – or better yet, plan a community water education event to celebrate California Water Awareness Month in May, while supporting the climate action goals of the 50th Earth Day!
WaterSense makes it easy to find water–efficient products to help your wallet and the environment — just look for the WaterSense label on products. WaterSense products are backed by independent, third–party certification and meet EPA specifications for water efficiency and performance. When you use these water–saving products, you can expect savings on your water bills. You can also learn about new products in development on the site.
The Grey Water Project is a non-profit founded by a junior at American High School in Fremont, who is passionate about grey water reuse and water conservation. This site includes information on grey water and a grey water curriculum created for elementary schools.
Greywater Action is a collaborative of educators who teach residents about affordable and simple household water systems to dramatically reduce water use and can play a critical role in drought resilience, climate adaptation, and the return of healthy stream ecosystems.
CAPTURE (California Practices To Use Runoff Effectively) at Schools are runoff practice guidelines to reduce runoff and pollutants that flow from school properties. Many runoff-capture practices can be designed to enhance schoolyards beyond improving runoff management, such as reducing the heat island effects of asphalt, establishing drought tolerant habitat, creating outdoor play and educational opportunities related to sustainability. The Project WET activity ‘Rainy Day Hike’ can engage multiple grade levels in the study of schoolyard runoff and ‘Storm Water’ introduces students to storm water capture practices.
The Project WET activity ‘Wetland Soils in Living Color’ can launch your class into an investigation of local soil properties and potential opportunities to improve soil quality. Composting is a way to convert organic material into stable soil carbon, while retaining water, nutrients and sequestering.carbon. Human beings have long used compost to feed gardens and fields and its use ranges in scale from backyard bins to industrial operations.
Building public understanding of climate change, and the political will to address it, is arguably the most important science translation effort of the century. There are a million reasons why climate change matters, but not all will move the public to act – and some will turn them off. Research by the Frame Works Institute found that two values frames are the strongest, most reliable ways of making the case for meaningful changes in line with scientific consensus.
En-ROADS is a free simulation model allowing anyone with the ability to explore for themselves the likely consequences of energy, economic growth, land use and other policies affecting our climate future. The simulation offers an intuitive interface, has been carefully grounded in the best available science and calibrated against a wide range of existing climate and energy models.‘8-4-1, One For All’ used in the context of water challenges in a changing climate would be a great Project WET activity to use in conjunction with EN-ROADS.
The Global Climate Change site provides the public with accurate and timely news and information about Earth’s changing climate, along with current data and visualizations, from the unique perspective of NASA. See how climate change has affected glaciers, sea ice, and continental ice sheets worldwide.
An independent organization of leading scientists and journalists that researches and reports the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public. The site is loaded with information, images and data links, such as WXShift – a new weather site that gives the climate context of your local forecast every day – or explore sea level rise and coastal flood threats using the Coastal Risk Screening Tool.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) manages California’s water resources, systems, and infrastructure, including the State Water Project. Our Climate Change program guides the Department in its efforts to improve energy efficiency, fuel efficiency, water conservation and agricultural methods. Our Education program helps Californians of all ages learn about water and provides a variety of resources to help K-12 teachers and other educators teach about water resources.
Save Our Water is a statewide, water conservation program with a goal to make water conservation a daily habit among Californians. Californians have made great strides in their commitment to water conservation and even the smallest changes can have a big impact. Read some of the stories of Californians who have reimagined their yard landscapes and find tips to reduce outdoor water usage while still maintaining a beautiful yard!
What is being done to increase climate resiliency and systems sustainability on a statewide scale? Proceeds from the Cap-and-Trade Program facilitate comprehensive investments throughout California to support programs and projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state and deliver major economic, environmental, and public health benefits for Californians.This Interactive map shows project level information on California Climate Investments..
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
The California Project WET program and our sponsors are eager to assist in supporting local professional development and water education outreach efforts. We have a number of workshops coming up later this spring highlighting topics ranging from water conservation in San Bernardino and Riverside, chemistry in the watersheds (coming soon!) and connections to Next Generation Science Standards.
Project WILD is a wildlife-based environmental education program that fosters responsible actions toward wildlife and related natural resources. Professional development training and educational materials are available through workshop participation. Regional coordinators from throughout the state facilitate the program and conduct workshops.
Project Learning Tree uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase students’ understanding of the environment and actions they can take to conserve it. From its beginnings, PLT has helped develop students’ appreciation of the environment, build their ability to make informed decisions, and encourages them to take personal responsibility for sustaining the environment. Visit the California Project Learning Tree website to learn about upcoming workshops!
These 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 in Tuolumne or Kern Counties this Fall!
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! Register for summer 2020 now!
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 region. Join us for a professional development experience exploring our floodplain ecosystems, the ecosystem services they provide and their role in California’s flood control, water conveyance systems and ecological systems. Please check back in April to register for an institute in Sacramento, Fresno, Butte or Solano County this summer!
Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County teachers! Join us for an exciting experience at the beach, in local estuaries, and knee-deep in the Ventura River doing field science! The Watershed Institute supports a small group of teachers who will work to refine your ability to lead engaging outdoor and community-based learning with students as you explore local habitats. Participants in this training receive access to high quality learning materials from NOAA, Project WET, and Lawrence Hall of Science’s Beetles Project, have time for planning and receive a $300 stipend upon completion of a curriculum plan. Contact Kurt Holland for questions and a registration link.
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 teach 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.
The California Science Teachers’ Association is thrilled to introduce a new webinar series: Outdoor & Environmental Literacy Learning. Join a talented group of teachers as we introduce a practical approach for integrating across traditional content boundaries. The Environmental 5E, approach to learning weaves HSS, ELA and science instruction into one engaging whole via the Cross-Cutting Concepts (CCCs). With practice, teachers find that demands on their planning time are reduced, that children are more motivated, and that teaching is more fun!
The Forestry Challenge is an academic event for high school students in technical forestry and current forestry topics. Youth benefit by developing a better understanding the relationship of the forested environment to their community, by exposure to natural resource management as a potential career option, and by undertaking a rigorous critical thinking exercise that is timely and addresses current forestry topics such as wildfire, insects, and forest health.
GRANTS & STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES
NPR Student Podcast Challenge – Entry Deadline: March 24 2020
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 your work appear on NPR. This contest is for teachers with students between 5th and 12th grade. Each podcast should be between three and 12 minutes long. The winning podcast submissions will be featured in segments on Morning Edition or All Things Considered.
Stockholm Junior Water Prize - Entry Deadline: April 15, 2020
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, 2020
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 10 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, 2020
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 K – 6. Applications for teachers of grades K – 6 are now open. Applications must be completed by May 1, 2020.
Ocean Guardian School - Deadline: May 1, 2020
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 2020 application will be on the website by April 1, 2020.
Ocean Awareness Student Contest - Deadline: June 15, 2020
The Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest is for students ages 11-18 to learn about ocean issues through art and creative communication, where they can explore their relationship to a changing world and become advocates for environmental action. Join thousands of youth around the world to raise awareness about the climate crisis, potential solutions and inspire action through art and creative media.
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