Guest post by Elaine Mendelow, Water Festival Coordinator and teacher, New Jersey Project WET
On Friday, October 9, 2016, all fourth grade students at Rush Intermediate School in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, dressed in their MAKE A SPLASH! T-shirts (designed by two of the 4th graders) and boarded buses to Palmyra Cove Nature Park, where 16 learning stations had been set up for them. More than 45 presenters from Mosquito Control, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, NJ American Water Company, and Pompeston Creek Watershed Association, as well as many parent volunteer presenters, were ready with a wide variety of hands-on activities that encouraged experimenting, observing, predicting and problem solving.
Students rotated through eight stations from Macroinvertebrates to Bubbleology, from The Long Haul to H2Olympics to Seining! Parent chaperones followed a strict schedule, rotating every 18 minutes! Presenters were impressed with the level of interest and probing questions asked by the students. For the second year, we have invited the High School Environmental Science class to help run some of the stations and prepare appropriate activities after doing extensive research. Another highlight of the day was the Water Wizards Competition, where each of the 16 teams answered more than 30 water-related questions, vying for the Lamp of Learning trophies awarded to the two teams with the greatest number correct.
More than 350 adults and students participated in the Festival, with support from many sponsors including the Cinnaminson Education Association PRIDE program that provided a lovely buffet breakfast and the t-shirts for all the adult volunteers, the Burlington County Bridge Commission, which provided a delicious luncheon for the presenters, teachers, and honored guests, and the Cinnaminson Education Foundation, that provides additional financial support. Rave evaluations from all participants (students, chaperones, teachers, and presenters) contained requests to do this again next year.
Follow-up activities included raising money for a well for South Sudan (after reading JUST ADD WATER in each classroom), taking a pledge to conserve water, and writing thank you letters to our sponsors.
Thanks to Kevin Kopp, New Jersey Project WET Coordinator, for sharing Elaine's story with us!