The World of Water Education: Project WET

Instead of focusing on a Water Charity this Tuesday, we chose nonprofit organization Project WET. This organization focuses on water education through reaching out to teachers, community members, children, and parents in the United States and around the world. Project WET achieves this goal through publishing informative water materials in different languages, creating school curriculum for different age groups, and sponsoring trainings around the world. Project WET also organizes community water events such as the Global Water Education Village. This event is held every three years at the World Water Forum, the last one was held in Istanbul, Turkey. The goal of the Global Water Education Village is to discuss local actions in water education that are successful at reaching children.

Project WET is committed to reaching out to audiences around the world and in ushering water education into the twenty-first century.  Most recently, Project WET has teamed up with the National Park Service.  In a press release issued on June 22, 2011, Project WET and the National Park Service announced that they would be collaborating on an educational series titled, “Discover the Waters of Our National Parks.”  This science based program will include hands-on activities, videos, special workshops, online courses, guides and an internet portal. Project WET President, Dennis Nelson stated, “Water connects our national parks to each other and to the people of the United States through the water cycle, making national parks a perfect springboard for educating people about water.” This project is going be launched at select national parks within the next year, so keep a look out at your local park!

Project WET’s website offers lots of links for parents, educators, corporations and museums.  If you want to get involved, there are plenty of avenues for that, too. Of course, you can donate on their secure website in any amount you choose, but you can also choose some more innovative ways as well. For example, you can sponsor a classroom and provide a Water and Sustainability Kit which includes copies of various activity and educational booklets for every child.  If you want to be more hands on, you can train to become a Project WET facilitator. After completing the course, you can deliver workshops to teachers and educators in your area. A great way to get involved in your community for a worthy cause!

So this week, Project WET is our pick for a great water focused organization. If you’re a teacher, parent or just someone interested in making a difference through water education, be sure to check out Project WET!

Water Reading- The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman

“Many civilizations have been crippled or destroyed by an inability to understand water or manage it. We have a huge advantage over the generations of people who have come before us, because we can understand water and we can use it smartly.”

– Charles Fishman, The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water

Charles Fishman, bestselling author of The Wal-Mart Effect has most recently turned his attention to water. The leap from discounted mega-giant to Earth’s most essential resource may seem like a big one, but Fishman is interested in relationships-whether it’s to Wal-Mart or water.  Fishman first began his flirtation with water in a 2007 article entitled, “Message in a Bottle”, published in Fast Company magazine. In this piece Fishman lamented, “Thirty years ago, bottled water barely existed as a business in the United States. Last year, we spent more on Poland Spring, Fiji Water, Evian, Aquafina, and Dasani than we spent on iPods or movie tickets– $15 billion. It will be $16 billion this year” (Fishman, 2007).

Fast forward to 2011, and Fishman tackles both the history and future of water in our world. The Big Thirst seeks to open people’s eyes to the reality of water in the twenty-first century. Similar to what the book and film, Fast Food Nation did for revealing the atrocities of the United States fast food industry, Thirst delves into people’s water consciousness. For example, do you know where your water goes when it swirls down the drain, flushes down the toilet or leaves your washing machine? A majority of Americans have no idea.

Also consider that most Americans don’t know where the majority of their daily water usage comes from. Do you? In 1999, a group of researchers used electronic water-flow sensors in 1,888 homes for four weeks. The results showed that the primary way American’s use water daily is by flushing the toilet. About five times a day per person if you want to put a figure on it. We literally flush 5.7 billion gallons of water down the toilet a day (Fishman, 2011).

The Big Thirst’s strength stems from Fishman’s ability to storytell. He connects you to your relationship with water in a multitude of ways. Take for example, this excerpt, “Like so much of modern life, safe, reliable water and sewer service is both essential and a complete mystery. We have no idea where our water comes from, we have no idea what happens to it when the dishwasher is done with it. We have no idea what effort is required to get the water to us, and no idea what’s required to get rid of it. That ignorance doesn’t matter, until things start to go wrong.”

Water is an essential resource in our daily lives- and most of us do not understand how much we rely on it, how much goes into getting it to our faucet, and what we would do if it were to stop flowing freely. Charles Fishman explores these questions through fascinating stories intertwining his personal travels to the water bottling plants of San Pellegrino, Italy and Poland Spring, Maine.  The main question being, why don’t we value our most essential resource the way we should?

New Jersey American Water Scholastic “Tap for Tap” Original Song and Dance Contest

NJ American Water Scholastic Tap for Tap ContestThe New Jersey American Water and Scholastic is hosting a Tap for Tap Song and Dance contest for students in grades K-8. The purpose of the contest is to encourage students to help the environment by opting for tap water. To enter, teachers should have their students write a toe-tapping original song describing what makes tap water so special, and then choreograph a tap dance routine to go along with it. Teachers may submit entries by mailing in the song lyrics and a video of the dance, or by submitting the material online through the Scholastic Tap for Tap entry form. This contest is open to New Jersey public schools, private schools, home schools or dance schools.

Judging will be based solely on the song lyrics and how well it communicates the benefits of tap water. Three winning classrooms will receive a field day from New Jersey American Water, along with a brand new library of Scholastic books and a pizza party.

We thought this was a creative and fun way for students to learn about the benefits of opting for tap water over bottled water. Though the contest is currently open to students in the New Jersey area, perhaps teachers in other states can be inspired to host or participate in a similar event. Teach your kids about tap water now, so that they will develop good, environmentally-friendly habits from now into adulthood. Filters Fast offers several other ways for your students to learn about water and sustainability, including a WaterSafe Science Project Water Test Kit that can compare the water quality of up to 10 different tap water samples. For other ideas on taking your classroom to the next level, take a look at our “Educator’s Guide to Green Lessons and Activities,” as well as this collection of Energy and Science Projects for Students.