Best Project WET Activities for Outdoor Learning: Part Two

(Read Part One here.)

Note: Most of the activities below can be found in the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide 2.0, which is available through your local Coordinator. However, some are from other educator guides for sale on the Project WET store in hard copy or download. Activities and Educator Guides that can be directly purchased are linked in the text.

Learning outdoors benefits students and educators, which is why we want to help educators get out! Here's the next set of Project WET's best outdoor activities, as chosen by Project WET USA Coordinators and Project WET Foundation staff:

At the Water, Space and STEM Education Symposium, participants did a hands-on water stewardship activity and heard from distinguished panelists8-4-1, One for All requires teamwork and compromise, all in a whole-body activity that gets learners moving 8-4-1, One for All

Take eight water users, four common water needs and one water source to serve them all and you have the hugely popular 8-4-1, One for All activity. Representing eight different water users, learners must cooperate to carry their precious water “downstream” while navigating through floods, droughts and other water management challenges. Pennsylvania Coordinator Jessica Kester says she likes 8-4-1 because “not only does it have kids working together but gets them thinking of all the people and industries that all need water in different ways.” Project WET VP of Publications Megan Regnerus agreed with Jessica, saying “8-4-1 is my favorite outdoor activity because not only does it get students active and having fun, but really allows them to think about deeper questions regarding water and access.”  She added, “It is a great teamwork activity that brings awareness to the many water needs in our communities.” (Water user tags for 8-4-1 are also available on the Store.) 

Related activities also nominated

Michelle Darnell of Texas notes that Sum of the Parts also tackles the important idea that we all live downstream, saying the activity “really brings home how properties upriver affect others”. Blue River, which was nominated by both West Virginia’s Tomi Bergstrom and Cinde Thomas-Jimenez of Texas, is another whole-body simulation activity, this one demonstrating the movement of water through a river and its watershed. Seeing Watersheds, which was nominated in Part One, is another activity that works well in combination with 8-4-1.

Students participating in the Long Haul activity learned about conserving water.The Long Haul teaches about history, math, water conservation and teamwork The Long Haul

Cindy Etgen of Maryland says it best, “The Long Haul…need I say more? Sloshing water on a hot day and getting wet!” This relay-style activity can be used to teach history, math and water conservation—all while learners work as a team. Educators can also use the activity as a springboard to discuss water scarcity and gender issues, since women and girls spend an estimated 200 million hours — daily — collecting water. As UNICEF reports, water gathering steals time from education and play for girls and “can even make school impossible”.

Related activities also nominated

Another excellent history-related Project WET outdoor lesson is Water Crossing, says Maryland’s Cindy Etgen. “Water Crossing is a great STEM-meets-history-meets-geography lesson.” She adds, “If you are using natural materials (which is what we do) it is much easier to run the lesson and clean up if you run it outside.” For other social studies options, Michelle Darnell of Texas likes Poison Pump, which she says she uses in conjunction with A Grave Mistake. “The older kids really get into the history,” she says.

Coming next, the Honorable Mentions! If you have questions about how best to bring the outdoors to your students, feel free to contact your local Coordinator or Project WET staff.

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