Creating excitement about learning is always the goal for Arizona Project WET (APW). Even with schools closed for safety during the pandemic, APW staff and student Water Educators stepped up to provide unique opportunities for students to learn about water in the comfort of their own homes.
When we all moved to “sheltering in place,” student Water Educators were also transitioning to online learning for their remaining college classes. Other AmeriCorps volunteers serving as Water Educators, worked with APW staff and UArizona students, putting their heads and hearts together to help create the first virtual Arizona Water Festival event!
The desire to engage Arizona 4th graders stuck at home inspired a tremendous amount of creativity. The team stepped up and applied their newly acquired online education skills to enhance learning at the local level. Armed with creative briefs, scripts, video cameras, and props, this determined contingent of water educators assembled and compiled a series of fun and engaging videos to bring the world of water into their homes. The result? Students, teachers, sponsors, and parents loved it and appreciated the effort to customize the program to meet needs in this unprecedented time.
Mick Filloon, the K-12 Science Coordinator for Gilbert Public Schools and a big supporter of Arizona Project WET programs, thanked the team for their “tireless work” on developing this new format, noting how “AZ Project WET has been such a great partner… and we are fortunate to have your team working so hard to move the workshops onto a virtual platform.” School District partners and teachers from Globe, Peoria, Buckeye, Roosevelt, and other areas offered their thanks to theAPW team for the successful transition to this new learning platform.
Traditional water festival field days are large and impressive events. Imagine a school athletic field filled with nearly a thousand students exuberantly rotating with their class through a timed series of activities at 16 stations. Each student engages in four learning opportunities covering watersheds and water supply, the water cycle, the groundwater system, and water conservation technology. With a window into this highly interactive event, you can imagine the challenge the APW team embraced to energize online learning and bring home the message of water’s importance.
Arizona Project WET has set up a virtual water festival web page that anyone - anywhere - can use and learn from. The web page is: https://arizonawet.arizona.edu/awf/arizona-water-festival/awf-virtual-event. What started out as disappointment for students turned into an incredible opportunity for everyone to learn about water wherever they are around the State and even around the world!
The APW team didn’t stop with a virtual water festival, they have continued to innovate and create more online learning opportunities. A Water Scene Investigation (WSI) challenge was also released with the goal of inspiring families to work together to explore ways to adopt home water conservation practices and help protect Arizona's precious resources. They created a new WSI mascot, “Drippy”, who helps families look for other opportunities to save water. Drippy even offers a free aerator to families looking to save water. Join the fun at: https://arizonawet.arizona.edu/awf/wsi/home. A leak detection investigation program was added to the site this week!
It is often said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” The Arizona Project WET team took this adage a step farther. By combining head, heart, and home, they used their passion and determination to create innovative learning platforms without walls or barriers. Could this be a part of equitable learning opportunities going forward? Only time will tell, but the future certainly looks bright.