On April 17th, GREEN volunteered at the University of Arizona Water Resources and Research Center’s Tucson Water Festival held at the James D. Kreigh Park in Oro Valley. Throughout the day, GREEN taught nearly 600 4th grade students from the Amphitheater Public Schools and the Broadway Sonoran Science Academy about watersheds and water movement.
The watershed lesson began with a short introduction where students defined a watershed and identified watershed features in their surroundings. Students were then “hired” as watershed managers, and under the guidance of GREEN members, the students used watershed models to explore water movement by simulating rain, snowpack, and erosion forces. Students learned how people are part of watersheds, how we manage watersheds, and how we impact watersheds (including concepts such as point source and non-point source pollution). Using clay, tubing, toy cars and toy buildings, students explored the water needs of communities and how we use engineering and water management principles to design water supply systems (dams, canals, irrigation, and piping).
Water conservation, groundwater movement, and the water cycle were also explored by the students using a variety of interactive and highly engaging activities as they participated in other stations.
According to the festival coordinator Tina Sleeper:
“The Water Festival program is part of the Arizona Project WET Tucson Water Education Program, sponsored by Tucson Water. The program employs University of Arizona students as Water Educators who work throughout the year enriching water science education in Pima County through educational field trips to the Sweetwater Wetlands, in-class groundwater flow presentations, and teacher professional development programs.”
The festival is only part of a month-long curriculum focusing on Arizona’s water resources, the water cycle, and water conservation. To develop this curriculum, teachers attended workshops to develop lesson plans which were taught to the students before and after the festival activities. This program allows students to learn the material before attending the festival so that they are highly engaged and eager to participate in the festival’s activities. Following the festival, the concepts are reviewed in the classroom to ensure good retention and student comprehension.
This was GREEN’s first time volunteering at this event and we look forward to helping at future festivals. Since one of GREEN’s objectives is to develop outreach education for K-12 levels, this festival was an excellent opportunity to make connections and begin fostering collaborations with educators to develop greener lesson plans and teaching materials. Further, opportunities like this offer GREEN’s members an excellent opportunity to practice teaching complex concepts to a variety of age groups, engage in community service, and highlight ways in which we can green our environment.
Other volunteer organizations at the event included the City of Tucson, Metro Water Utilities, Ventana Medical Systems, City of Tucson Stormwater, Pima Association of Governments Clean Water Starts with Me, the Arizona Project WET Team, and Pima County Natural Resources, Parks, and Recreation.