The Project WET Foundation has trained a pioneering group of Ecolab employees in Minnesota to reach children with interactive water education—and then helped them put their new skills to work during a water festival at a local elementary school.
More than 30 Ecolab employees spent the morning with Project WET team members engaged in exercises and simulations designed to teach water conservation and hygiene. The lessons were taken from the new Clean and Conserve Activity Guide for Educators, the central component of a new joint program between Ecolab and the Project WET Foundation to reach 2 million people worldwide with water education and help make the world a healthier place.
Cherokee Heights Elementary School, in St. Paul, Minn., the home of Ecolab’s world headquarters. The six Ecolab employee groups would have 45 minutes to teach three classes of 20 students about one aspect of water conservation, stewardship or hygiene during the hour-long festival.The students then became the teachers as they divided into groups and discussed how to make the lessons their own at an afternoon water festival for third, fourth and fifth grade students at
To kick off the festival, Cherokee Heights Principal Sharon Hendrix commanded the attention of the 120 participating students and explained that the event hosts were from Ecolab. She noted that students may recall seeing the Ecolab name on one of downtown St. Paul’s tallest buildings. Jamice Obianyo, Ecolab’s director of Community Relations, fired up the crowd and introduced John Etgen, senior vice president of the Project WET Foundation, to start the festival. With a quick whistle blow, the groups began the activities at their interactive learning stations.
Two groups led students through several rounds of tag to learn how healthy hygiene habits such as proper hand washing, sneezing into a sleeve and washing fruits and vegetables before eating can help students prevent contagious illnesses such as flu and colds. Two other groups learned about the amount of fresh water available for human consumption—a tiny percentage of the world’s water—and then tried to conserve and fairly allocate water through water conservation actions that students could share with their families. The two final groups divided their students into different parts of a watershed, simulating heavy rain, drought, flash floods and even the way that trash can be swept into waterways by improper disposal of garbage.
After the students had each participated in all three activities, the festival concluded with the presentation of certificates and pins to each classroom teacher. Each student received a copy of the Clean and Conserve Your Water children’s activity booklet. By completing the program, each student and teacher is now a WaterStar—a designation that aims to inspire everyday action to conserve and protect our water resources and the health of communities.
“It’s important for everyone to understand how personal water use affects a wider community and how hand washing helps stop the spread of germs,” said Kris Taylor, Ecolab vice president of Community Relations. “The Clean and Conserve curriculum is a great opportunity to share our water and hygiene expertise to help educate students and ultimately inspire them to champion change in their communities.”
The Clean and Conserve Education Program is available free of charge to to formal and non-formal educators around the world. Lessons and other resource materials can be downloaded at http://projectwet.org/cleanandconserve.