Monday, July 27, 2015

WaterWorks! Tuesday, August 5: Connecting Science with Community Service & Water Activities

by Steven Beardsley

Participants Discuss Takeaways from Yesterday
We started the day by relating takeaways we had from yesterday. For instance, a lot of participants talked about the controversy surrounding adding fluoride to water to help with teeth health. We then went into a series of presentations that connected water issues with art and community service. The first presenter was Mary Johnson from Public Art Saint Paul Public Art Saint Paul. They are a nonprofit organization that has Artists and STEM professionals collaborating together to provide fun activities for kids. Mary also talked about their Spider Mobile where kids gather to engage in various art projects that teach about the river and water conservation. She then led us in an activity to create our own river fish through multi-colored paper. Her presentation related the power of art in creating strong messages about the environment that children and adults can take with them.

Mary Johnson from Public Art Saint Paul
Sherry with her River Fish

H2O for Life & “Where is the Water in White Bear Lake?”

Patty Hall from “H2O for Life”

After Mary’s presentation, Patty Hall, who is the director of H20 for Life, led a presentation on how students in Minnesota schools can become engaged in global projects that help students in other countries have access to clean water and water facilities. She talked about various projects that she’s engaged in with other schools and how teachers at the institute can get their students involved in these projects. The biggest thing about these projects is providing students the opportunity to learn about the environment, cultural differences, and also make a positive in a community outside their own.

Amy Okaya presents her documentary on White Bear Lake

One of the last presentations for the day was led by Amy Okaya of Okaya Studios who presented her documentary on White Bear Lake called "Where is the water in White Bear Lake?" Her documentary pointed out the reasons for lower lake levels during the past couple of years and how this has affected the community. Moreover, the documentary shows residents who talked about how lower lake levels have negatively impacted recreation from swimming to boating. Amy also provided a variety of book resources for teachers that taught about water.

Urban Water Cycle & Water Activities

Participants in Water Cycle Activity
Doug Paulson helping lead Water Activities

Stew Thornley also did a brief presentation on the "Urban Water Cycle"created by CGEE. The rest of the day involved a series of water challenges led by John Olson, a Minnesota Science Specialist, and Doug Paulson, a Minnesota STEM Specialist. John and Doug first had participants draw their own version of the water cycle, pointing out the limitations and advantages of the model. Participants then got to go into the hall to mimic that model in a hands-on activity.

John is certified to handle this dangerous chemical
Making Groundwater Models

Participants divided into groups based on where water goes in the water cycle (i.e. glaciers, oceans, etc.) and had to roll a wooden dice that told them where to go next or if they had to stay and roll again. For example, people who started out in glaciers rolled the dice to see if they would go to another station like animals or stay and roll again. Participants recorded their data and went upstairs in the lab to undergo a series of water activities. These challenges included: filtrating contaminated water, creating water bottle biomes, looking at water resources, conducting a variety of water quality tests, making groundwater models, and analyzing different layers of sediment in the ground. John finished the day off with a visual representation of how cold water and hot water mix. He also talked about Dihydrogen monoxide (H2O, water) and how dangerous it is (i.e. how calling a chemical an unfamiliar name can be used to fool the public.)

Final Presentation by John, cold water is green and hot water is red
When Hot Water, Cold Water, and a Mix of both are together

Concluding Thoughts

The day involved a variety of presentations that connected water education with artistic projects and community involvement. Teachers learned about how to get their students engaged with water conservation and how to help them put their education into action. For instance, Patty Hall noted that community projects that benefit a school in Kenya teach students in the United States that one does not have to be an adult to make a difference. The final water activities also helped teachers gather information about activities that can help students understand the advantages and disadvantages of various models and how to manipulate models to see different phenomenon. Overall, these activities help students learn about the importance of water and its impact on the community.

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