Summer 2020 California Project WET Gazette
Volume XXV, Issue IIl
Hands-on Learning in a Digital World
“Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next…”
— Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’
I suspect I’m not the only one feeling a bit like Alice after falling through our own rabbit hole in March to enter a disconcerting world of digital learning. I’m sure many of us now have first-hand experience with ‘all the running you can do just to keep in the same place’ and figuring out how to do “as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” You may also have found yourself arguing with our own versions of ”I’m not crazy, my reality is just different than yours” Cheshire cats in regards to wearing masks or debating our course forward until a COVID-19 vaccine is found.
I must admit I was initially feeling very pessimistic for the future prospects for encouraging direct, hands-on learning experiences in a world already fearing bugs, dirt, heat, cold, air quality and a variety of other phobias outside one’s door. Add to that a virus deadly enough to be declared a global pandemic reinforced by two months of mandatory stay at home orders and one has to wonder how hard it will be for people to directly engage with the world outside ever again. But, pessimism has given way to marvel at the ingenuity on all the ways educators and parents have found to modify and adapt to the online learning environment, including the continued use of Project WET activities with their students!
Project WET created a Home and Distance Learning Resources page of free or low cost resources – digital and non-digital – that educators, parents and children can use to learn about water while still focusing on skills and concepts at the core of current standards in multiple core subject areas. The resources include video tutorials demonstrating early childhood activities with children at home on water properties and water states within seasons plus interactive, self-directed tutorials for several activities including ‘Seeing Watersheds,’ ‘Drop in the Bucket,’ ‘H2Olympics’ and ‘A Plume Problem’ (‘A Grave Mistake’).
Project WET plans to continue adding to our home and distance learning resources throughout the summer, but we are seeking your guidance on what your distance learning experience was like this spring – what worked, what didn’t and what you think Project WET could do to help you as we continue distance learning into the foreseeable future. At the end of this 12-question survey, you will have the option to enter a drawing for one of two $100 Amazon Gift Cards. Thank you in advance to everyone who is able to help make distance education a better experience for everyone!
A class of Humboldt State University students received Project WET training prior to the COVID-19 closures of schools and campuses, yet they were still tasked with developing Project WET activities to teach at a local elementary school in this new learning environment with team members in other counties or states. Their Professor was as stunned as I was on the activities her students chose to lead online, including ‘The Long Haul’ (p: 273) and ‘Money Down the Drain’ (p: 351). Any of you who have experienced these activities know one is a water relay race between large tubs of water and the other involves calculating water loss from leaking water containers – and are probably having the same ‘no way in heck’ initial reaction everyone else has had!
‘Money Down the Drain’ (p: 351) began with students brainstorming where leaks might be found in their house, then given time to quickly check those locations for any evidence of leaks. Students then entered Zoom break-out rooms with an HSU student team member, a leaking jug and measuring device. A chat box link to a Google form version of the student page allowed each break-out room to work together on recording and then calculating the volume and cost of each leak. Students in each breakout room then shared their results with the rest of the class to generate a discussion as in the activity on water loss, the price of water and the costs of leaks and leak repair. The HSU students even did the whole group demonstration in Part ll simulating water loss in a community system due to aging infrastructure.
We recreated the HSU student’s version of ‘The Long Haul’ (p: 273) in a recent nationwide Project WET training. Each of us was asked to have two coffee cups – one filled with water, a tablespoon, a measuring cup and a towel for drips ready to go before class began. During the training, we were asked to pace off distances using our feet – names starting with A – G = 5 feet, H – R = 10 feet, etc. – and then turn our online devices so we could all see each other’s routes on gallery view. Once the facilitator said ‘GO!’, it was like doing the activity outside – you could hear everyone laughing through the screen and catch glimpses of competitors each time the device screen was passed!
Once time was called, we each measured the amount of water we were able to get into our ‘home storage’ and recorded our answers under a column for our distance on a Google spreadsheet via a link in the chat box that instantly averaged each column as we each entered our data. The effect of distance was clearly visible in the patterns of our simulation data and generated quite a discussion on how the time and distance to get water impacted lives in the days before plumbing here and places on the planet where this is still the case.
Credential candidates at Sacramento State did some amazing things as students who were also parents at home with kids and other family members. One turned the entire house into stations for ‘The Incredible Journey’ (p: 155) with their bedroom as the clouds, the hallway as the river station, dining room as the ocean, etc. Others created their own cubes, made spinners, used dice to determine how water molecules would travel and whatever beans, pasta or art supplies as beads – or just gave everyone a marker and the student page in the guide to record the journey of each at home. Many did it as a fun activity outside.
‘Sum of the Parts’ (p: 283) was used by dozens of households this spring with ’students of multiple generations’, as the designing of properties gave everyone in the family a break from the virus news. Some great discussions about point and non-point pollutants and personal responsibility came out of these experiences – some of which turned into action to reduce potential runoff issues from their own yards.
‘Rainy Day Hike’ (p: 169) was used in a similar fashion, but got everyone outside from the get go mapping their home runoff landscape that identified projects the whole family could participate in. Another group used ‘Make-a-Mural’ (p: 515) as a Zoom class activity, where students worked in small group breakout rooms using the whiteboard feature to sketch out their assigned mural elements before coming back together as a class to design the full mural.
These are just a few of many examples of how educators of all stripes found ways to turn Project WET activities into online learning tools, while retaining the fun and interactive nature that engages students to learn. Over the summer, Project WET staff and coordinators will be continuing to share examples like those above, learning how to recreate them as fun online learning experiences for workshops in the fall and how to develop more into additional online learning tools for students.
It has been a tough couple of months and I can only hope everyone will be getting a chance for some form of break before diving into planning for the next school year. You’ll find a variety of ‘Events’ to enjoy over the summer in this Gazette. Once you begin planning, check the ‘Websites of Interest’ section for resources you may find of use – with digital and non-digital options – and an array of ‘Grants’ opportunities to fund your class projects. Finally, the ‘Professional Development Opportunities’ lists partner organizations that have and/or are in the process of planning fall workshops. Hope you all have a safe summer!
“I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
― Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’
June 6 – June 14, 2020: California Invasive Species Action Week
The goals of the California Invasive Species Action Week (CISAW) are to increase public awareness of invasive species issues and promote public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources. Help us celebrate California’s Invasive Species Action Week, by volunteering to take action to help stop the spread of invasive species. Find an event near you by visiting our 2020 schedule of events.
Summer 2020: Water Wednesdays
Join scientists from the California Department of Water Resources and explore our wonderful water resources. These family-friendly events bring science and the beauty of California’s outdoor world into your home. In June, the sessions will be about Our Summer Water Sources with Reservoirs on the 10th, Snowpack on the 17th, and Groundwater on the 24th. Then we’re going on summer vacation but plan to be back in late August and continue these throughout the rest of the year.
Summer 2020: CSU Northridge – Outdoor Adventures
CSUN Outdoor Adventures is helping everyone get their daily dose of nature even as we stay at home. Join us for tours of some of our most stunning national parks, as we digitally explore the natural world from the comfort of our homes. CSUN Outdoor Adventures is offering a variety of free interactive, and engaging explorations of the best spots nature has to offer. We look forward to digitally exploring with you!
July 4 and September 5, 2020: California Free Fishing Days
If you are new to the sport of fishing, California offers two Free Fishing Days each year where you can fish without a sport fishing license to give fishing a try. Some areas of the state offer a Fishing in the City program and free fishing day clinics designed to educate novice anglers about fishing ethics, fish habits, effective methods for catching fish, fishing tackle and where you can go fishing in the middle of major metropolitan areas. You can even learn how to clean and prepare your catch so you can enjoy it for dinner that night.
August 25, 2020: Free Entrance Days in the National Parks
Celebrate the National Park Service’s birthday with free entrance to a local national park! The National Park Service was created on August 25, 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Act. Each year, we work with partners to celebrate this anniversary.
September 24-26, 2020: California Agriculture in the Classroom Conference
Join us in beautiful Ventura County for an invaluable opportunity to collaborate with educators who share your passion for agriculture. Come and learn about the importance of educating our youth about food and fiber through all subject areas. Agriculture is everywhere and in everything we do! Click here to learn about conference scholarships and register for the conference.
September 26, 2020: California Coastal Cleanup Day
California Coastal Cleanup Day welcomes more than 60,000 volunteers who help clean up our beaches, lakes, and waterways of hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash and recyclables each year. It is a great opportunity for direct community involvement to combat the marine litter problem. Please join us in the fight to preserve wildlife by taking trash out of the environment. Plan to spend a day outside connecting with your community to celebrate California!
September 26, 2020: National Public Lands Day
From our neighborhood parks to our nation’s iconic national parks and forests, public lands are the places where we live, learn, play, exercise, and relax. Now it’s your turn to give back! NPLD is a fee-free day for all federal public lands and many state parks. Bring your family, friends, students or co-workers to spend a day outdoors giving back to our community. Your work will help ensure our public lands continue to be beautiful places for all to enjoy. Click here for more information!
September 26, 2020: Free Entrance Days in the National Parks
Celebrate National Public Lands Day with free entrance to a local national park! Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise. Click here to learn about discounts and special offers from park partners.
October 11 – 17, 2020: Earth Science Week 2020
Take part in Earth Science Week! “Earth Materials in Our Lives” is the 2020 theme to emphasize the ways that Earth materials impact humans — and the ways human activity impacts these materials — in the 21st century. This year’s theme will engage young people and others in exploring the relationship between Earth materials and people. The coming year’s theme will promote public understanding of geoscience and stewardship of the planet, especially in terms of these raw materials.
October 16 – 18, 2020: California Science Education Conference
We’re Going Virtual and WE CAN’T WAIT! We are excited that this year’s conference will be taking place virtually. The decision to make this move is one that we have taken seriously and is based in science and the utmost safety for our attendees, presenters, exhibitors and all those working to bring the conference together. Please keep an eye on our website In the coming weeks to learn about speakers and presenters, the structure of the overall conference, and great ways that you can become involved in the lead up, during the event and beyond.
December 11 – 13, 2020: California STEAM Symposium
We are proud to announce the 2020 California STEAM Symposium is moving online! To best serve your needs, we are convening the same great Symposium you know and love in a virtual venue. Mark December on your calendar for another wonderful year of inspiration, collaboration and professional learning. No longer limited by travel, connect with colleagues across California, the U.S., and the world. Share your passion and lead a breakout session from any location.
WEBSITES OF INTEREST
Project WET wants to ensure that water education continues for people of all ages. We have created a suite of free and discounted resources that educators, parents and children can use to learn about water while meeting standards in math, language arts, science and even fine arts. We hope this helps educators and students continue learning and exploring during this pandemic. Note that we will be updating this page regularly with new resources and tips. Please check back weekly to view Project WET resources!
Looking for fun and free activities to do with your kids at home? Check out the Department of Water Resources (DWR) education materials webpage for free educational activities to help those with students at home due to the coronavirus get access to educational materials. Whether you seek independent work activities like coloring sheets for your little one, a workbook for your tween, or you are ready to roll up your sleeves and lead simple hands-on science experiments, DWR can help!
Take a short aerial guided tour of the project from beginning to end to see how it supplies water to more than 27 million people in California and irrigates about 750,000 acres of farmland. The California State Water Project (SWP) is a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, power plants and pumping plants extending more than 700 miles—two-thirds the length of California.
DiscoverWater.org is a self-directed educational resource about different water topics — ranging from global to personal perspective —which together reflect many of the complex and important roles of water in our lives. DiscoverWater.org is designed for use by children ages 7-12 and for educators and parents of this age group, both in and out of a classroom setting.
From preschool and lower elementary students exploring tide pools and spotting otters to upper elementary students gliding through kelp forests and secondary students becoming virtually immersed in life at extreme depths and learning to take action on plastics, parents, caregivers and educators will find some wonderful resources to support learning at home and encourage a sense of wonder and connection to the natural world.
Project WET’s WASH education resources were originally designed as a project with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to reduce the spread of preventable waterborne diseases. Developed with local education, water and health experts for countries in East Africa, the materials have since been adapted to other regions of the world and for more specific locations in Africa. Most of the WASH education materials are available as free downloads.
The heightened public interest in the virus provides professionals in the water industry an opportunity to share information about why reusing treated wastewater is safe and why we have a very high degree of confidence on how these risks are being managed. To get answers to questions about managing the new coronavirus in the “sewershed,” we talked to two experts: Kara Nelson, an expert in waterborne pathogens at UC Berkeley; and Adam Link, executive director of the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.
HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS! In this six-video segment, as part of the “Do the Science” series, the process of water purification is explored through scientific concepts, along with a preview of the variety of careers available in the water industry as demonstrated at the Kern County Water Agency’s Improvement District No. 4 Henry C. Garnett Water Purification Plant. Click the link above to find descriptions of the six segments and video links to each.
Looking for more information about water resources and COVID-19? The Water Education Foundation has put together a list of resources and background information to keep you updated. We continue to publish our daily, curated roundup of water news – Aquafornia — including those related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Contact us while we’re working remotely; see who to reach out to and how to contact here.
Before you begin reading this, it is important to let you know that we are discussing an epidemiologist named Dr. John Snow, who first used mapping to trace the source of cholera in a neighborhood in London back in 1854. This mapping technique is a precursor of contact tracing which is currently being used to detect source cases of COVID-19 and isolate those who have come in contact with virus-hit individuals. Dr. Snow’s work can be explored in the Project WET activity ‘Poison Pump.’
Our Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Student (PORTS) program is now broadcasting our PORTS Home Learning Programs from locations across California. Students learning from home will be able to access our precious natural resources and cultural heritage from the comfort of their own home. See our program calendar below to register for these FREE K-12 programs. Space is limited, so sign up today!
The MPA Collaborative Network wants to share your resources, products, and programs with our statewide network. Our collaborative partners have a plethora of previously developed educational resources and newly developed distance learning programs! We also recognize that many people may not have access to the technology needed to utilize these resources. Do you have an idea for reaching underserved and disconnected communities during these digital times? Let us know at email@example.com.
Contribute to Science! Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. We share your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe. Works On All Your Devices – Just install our mobile apps so you can always observe, even without cell reception or WiFi!
Welcome to Stuck at Home Science! When you’re stuck at home, come here to continue your child’s science learning with our easy to follow activities. This space is designed for families to explore, investigate and have fun learning together without leaving home. All activities use easy to find household supplies and are appropriate for a variety of ages.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Our volunteer network of facilitators has been busy investigating the use of online tools and practices for conducting in person, online or hybrid workshops of the two this fall. Workshops in Riverside, Alameda, Solano and Sacramento County are currently available and more are in planning – please check our website throughout the summer for new Fall workshop opportunities!
Project WILD is a wildlife-based environmental education program that fosters responsible actions toward wildlife and related natural resources. Project WILD activity guides provide curriculum specially designed for educators of kindergarten through high school youth and educational materials are available through workshop participation. Regional coordinators organize and conduct professional development workshops throughout the state.
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. PLT focuses on developing students’ awareness, knowledge and appreciation of the environment, builds their skills and ability to make informed decisions and encourages them to take personal responsibility for sustaining the environment and our quality of life that depends on it. Visit our website to learn about upcoming workshops!
The Forestry Challenge is an academic event for high school students in technical forestry and current forestry topics. Participants spend four days applying critical thinking skills while learning about the ecology and management of forest landscapes and leave with a better understanding of the relationship of forests to their community and natural resource management as a potential career option. Schools that pre-register before June 30 will receive a 50% discount on their registration fees!
West Basin is hosting a series of interactive virtual education programs throughout the summer, including lunch & learn webinars, virtual tours of a water recycling facility and webinars on grass & turf removal, fire-resistant landscape and California friendly landscapes. Webinars will be live-hosted by West Basin staff or in partnership with other subject matter experts, and participants will be given the opportunity to ask questions during and after each presentation.
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. Click here to see a list of correlating Project WET activities to use with individual EEI units!
CEEIN is a state government consortium of environmental educators representing state departments and partner organizations. The CEEIN partnership provides a forum for members to share resources, programs and materials with California’s public schools and students of all ages. 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.
Taste and Teach Grants
Sign up to become one of 450 teachers who will be invited to Taste and Teach by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom! You will receive a $100 gift card to Raley’s or Stater Bros. grocery stores to purchase featured California-grown commodities each month beginning in September and a binder full of resources.
Annie’s Grants for Gardens - Applications Open: July 2020
Annie’s Grants for Gardens program offers funding of up to $5,000 for edible garden projects that help connect to nutritious food. We believe that showing future generations how sustainable food is grown can change their lives. Connecting kids to gardens helps them to start thinking more holistically about their food, their communities and the planet. Grant can be used to purchase gardening tools, seeds, or other needed supplies for new gardens or to support existing garden projects.
EcoSolution Grants - Deadline: July 15, 2020
Captain Planet Foundation ecoSolution™ Grants are intended to support solution-oriented, youth-led projects that result in real environmental outcomes. Grants of $500-$2,500 are available to educators working with youth in the United States. Please note that ecoSolution™ Grants will only support direct project costs. Support for T-shirts, staff salaries, field trips, scholarships, beautification/ landscaping, etc. will NOT be considered. You can also view a gallery of grantee success stories.
Literacy for Life Grants - Applications Open: August 2020
The Literacy for Life grants are designed to help initiate new projects or expand existing ones that promote agricultural literacy. Grants of up to $500 are provided to California K-12 educators to support the integration of agriculture into regular classroom instruction. Explore the list of project ideas and read how previous recipients have used this funding to improve agricultural learning opportunities on their campuses. The application period is currently closed but will open August, 2020.
Target Field Trip Grants - Applications Open: August 1, 2020
Target Field Trip Grants are open to education professionals who are at least 18 years old and employed by an accredited K-12 public, private or charter school in the United States. Educators, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals or classified staff of these institutions must be willing to plan and execute a field trip that will provide a demonstrable learning experience for students. We accept grant applications between noon Aug. 1 and noon Oct. 1 CST.
Look at Agriculture… Organically! grants - Deadline: Aug. 31, 2020
The Look at Agriculture… Organically! grants are designed to creatively enhance the understanding of organic agriculture for kindergarten through eighth grade students. Grants of up to $1,000 are designed to support the integration of organic agriculture into regular classroom instruction. The grants are provided through a partnership between the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (CFAITC) and the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Foundation. Grant applications will be available July 20 – August 31, 2020.
Toshiba America Foundation K – 5 Grant - Deadline: October 1, 2020
Do you have an innovative idea for improving math or science instruction in your classroom? Is your idea project-based learning with measurable outcomes? What do you need to make learning math and science fun for your students? K-5 grade teachers are invited to apply online for a $1,000 Toshiba America Foundation grant to help bring an innovative hands-on project into their own classroom.
Whale Tail Grant - Deadline: November 1, 2020
WHALE TAIL® grants support experiential education and stewardship of the California coast and its watersheds. Shoreline cleanup and coastal habitat restoration projects that have an educational component are also eligible for these grants. WHALE TAIL® grants focus on reaching communities that are poorly served in terms of marine and coastal education, and strive for a broad geographic distribution throughout California. Grant applications will be available in September.
Toshiba America Foundation 6 - 12 Grant - Deadline: November 1, 2020
Wanted: Classroom Innovators! Toshiba America Foundation accepts applications from teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students. Grade 6-12 Grant requests for $5,000 or less are accepted on a rolling basis, throughout the calendar year. Grant requests for $5,000 or more are accepted and reviewed – November 1st is the next deadline for these requests.
California Project WET Gazette is published by the Water Education Foundation, which serves as the state coordinator and host institution for Project WET USA, a program of the Project WET Foundation.
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