This guest post was adapted with permission from Enviro-News, a newsletter for school and community educators published by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP). NDEP is part of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Project WET's host institution in Nevada. The original can be viewed on the NDEP website. The post was written by Jennifer Piccinini, a 4th grade teacher at Coral Academy of Science in Reno, who facilitates a Project WET Science Club. Thanks to Mary Kay Wagner, Project WET Coordinator in Nevada, for sharing Jennifer's story.
Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide 2.0 is an excellent complement. The Guide offers resources and activities that are clear and understandable for the 4th and 5th grade students that I work with.After attending the Nevada Tahoe Teacher STEM Institute last summer—a week of classroom water activities and study at Lake Tahoe—I was inspired to start a Project WET Science Club. I am always looking for new activities to add to my science toolbox, and the
As the school year began last fall, the PWET Science Club started with the Blue Planet lesson and looked at water as a global concept, then more specifically as a local issue. Students studied the composition of water and discussed renewable resources. As the school year progressed, the Science Club explored deeper to study and analyze their local watershed. Using Truckee River watershed maps, students have tracked water processes and systems within their local Truckee Meadows community.
The students used their computer skills to access the U.S. EPA’s Surf Your Watershed, an interactive website presenting watersheds by counties and allowing Internet users to view the local area around them. There is a great activity in the Project WET Guide called "Humpty Dumpty" that presents the challenges of habitat restoration by piecing together puzzles and broken items. Students learn how impactful people are to the environment and how making way for people to live has changed watersheds as well as the forests and wetlands around us.
More recently, the Science Club has been studying drought. After the slight February snowfall, the students investigated how precipitation makes a difference in water levels. We were all surprised to find out that Lake Tahoe water levels came up about 5 inches even with small wet storms. Students have taken a keen interest following the local paper and with the internet research to compare pictures of the Truckee River from mouth to mouth. My students really make the connection of low water supply and drought with current pictures. Currently, the students are engaged with the Project WET activity "My Water Footprint" to track their daily use of water and come up with feasible ways to conserve water.
This club has been fun this school year. We have studied and played with water to really look at what water means for us individually, in our state, and globally.