Northeastern Section - 54th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 2-5
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM


WHISNER, Jennifer1, ALMER, Heather2, STEPHENS, Mark3, CORBIN, Nancy4, HARTZELL, Brittney4 and WHISNER, S. Christopher1, (1)Environmental, Geographical, and Geological Sciences, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, 400 E Second ST, Bloomsburg, PA 17815, (2)Global and Multicultural Education, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, 400 E Second ST, Bloomsburg, PA 17815, (3)Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Williamsport, PA 17701, (4)Columbia County Conservation District, Bloomsburg, 17815

For the past four years, the Columbia-Montour Coalition for Source Water Protection has run a water education and outreach day in early September. Volunteers from the county conservation district, local watershed groups, water suppliers, and state agencies have come together with university faculty and students to teach middle school students about the importance of clean, accessible, and abundant water and about the impacts of human-water interactions.

Each year more than 500 8th graders from public, private, and parochial schools in five school districts (including the entire 8th grade class and faculty from one school) visit a fish ecology station, observe a groundwater model, participate in a hands-on water filtration challenge, and identify landforms and propose building sites at a stream table station. Water Education Day also tries to reach students who may not identify with a classic STEM approach by conveying science messages through music and drama performed by local high school students, and by giving students the opportunity to express themselves through poetry and sustainable art.

Activities were selected to align with PA Department of Education standards for 8th grade, and inadvertently support some Next Generation Science Standards in Life Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences, and Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science.

Feedback has been positive. Volunteers are willing to return. Teachers have been willing to give up an instructional day, and school districts are willing to foot the bill for transportation. Students have even been heard humming songs from the drama station several days after the event! In addition to helping students achieve science education goals, Water Education Day shows students a wide variety of science jobs, that scientists come in all shapes and sizes, and that science can be fun. We hope in time that it will also prove to have developed a cohort of citizens who will be good stewards of our water resources.