Pilot program boosts student water IQs in Project WET's hometown of Bozeman

 

Students simulate a rain event's effect on water qualityBozeman elementary school students simulate a rain event's effect on water quality. Schoolkids in three Bozeman public school classrooms showed significantly better understanding of watersheds, storm water, water conservation and how individual actions can impact water following a pilot project sponsored by the City of Bozeman and designed by the Project WET Foundation. After implementation of the five-lesson Water Conservation and Storm Water Management education program, students’ test scores jumped nearly 250 percent on average compared to pre-test assessments.

“The results from this pilot demonstrate that we exceeded the goal of effectively presenting complex concepts related to local watersheds, water conservation and storm water to young learners. Credit goes to the incredible teachers and Project WET’s great lesson plans for making it such a success,” said Lain Leoniak, the City of Bozeman’s water conservation specialist.

Staff from the Montana Watercourse (Project WET's implementing partner in Montana) and the Project WET Foundation trained the teachers to use the program with their upper elementary and middle school students. The program’s five lessons offer some of the basics of water literacy while also delving into more advanced topics specific to Bozeman’s watershed, all using Project WET’s interactive education methods.

In “Seeing Bozeman’s Watershed,” students learn what a watershed is and then use maps to identify the key features of Bozeman’s Gallatin River and Bozeman Municipal watersheds. “A Year in the Gallatin River Watershed” teaches students how water flows in different seasons and at different elevations through a whole-body exercise as well as mapping and graphing work. The “Storm Water Hike” activity introduces the idea of city watersheds and explores the Bozeman Storm Water Distribution System by having students investigate water flow on their own school grounds. In “Sum of the Parts,” students demonstrate how storm water runoff can eventually carry pollution into Bozeman’s waterways. “Bozeman Home Water Audit” zeroes in on home water use with and without the use of water conservation practices to encourage students to take action to conserve Bozeman’s water.

“The jump in test scores not only shows how eager and bright our young citizens are but also speaks directly to the quality of Project WET’s teaching methods and Montana Watercourse's training.  I could not be happier with the professional and effective approach Project WET and the participating teachers have taken," said Kyle Mehrens, the City of Bozeman’s stormwater program coordinator. "This is a big win for Bozeman’s waterways!”

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