California Water Service Company (Cal Water) partnered with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), an organization dedicated to accelerating environmental literacy through education, to develop two new water education programs for the classroom and home: Cal Water H2O Challenge (www.calwater.com/challenge) and Cal Water Town (www.calwater.com/town). Building on Cal Water’s commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities it serves, Cal Water H2O Challenge and Cal Water Town provide in-class and at-home interactive experiences for students, parents and educators to learn and teach about the importance of water conservation through science and fun.
The programs include at-home activities and classroom competitions for grades 4-6 in Cal Water’s service areas. The winning class receives an all-expense-paid NatureBridge nature exploration trip to the Channel Islands to discover the wonders of ecology, biology and conservation.
“With more than 80 percent of California in extreme drought conditions this year, it is more important than ever that we are educating younger water users about conservation,” said Martin A. Kropelnicki, Cal Water President and CEO. “Cal Water H2O Challenge and Cal Water Town provide opportunities for kids across California to learn and have fun through educationally sound programs.”
“We are thrilled to be working with Cal Water on such crucial programs as the need for water conservation continues to rise,” said Christiane Maertens, Deputy Director, NAAEE. “Through Cal Water H2O Challenge and Cal Water Town, kids will be learning from programs developed by a consortium of education and science experts.”
The programs were developed with the expertise of the WestEd K-12 Alliance to ensure educationally sound, grade-specific experiences that encourage connection with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning.
During the course of 4-8 weeks, classrooms participating in Cal Water H2O Challenge will:
- Initiate, develop and implement a project focused on water through a community-based endeavor following project-based learning methodology.
- Create and submit a portfolio, including project goals, student research, science and/or engineering experimentation, actions to solve a local water issue and public outreach efforts as well as student and teacher reflections.
To ensure educators have access to the support they need, teachers will be provided with technical, expert and monetary support through:
- Online resources and logistical assistance.
- Targeted educational support and on-call teacher consultants from the WestEd K12 Alliance.
- Up to 20 $500 teacher grants (chosen by lottery) to aid in the completion of classroom projects.
The Cal Water H2O Challenge is a project-based competition for grades 4-6 in schools served by Cal Water seeking to enhance students’ understanding of water-based science concepts. The in-class program offers a unique opportunity for upper elementary teachers to facilitate students’ learning of standards-based content, while developing the core foundation of environmental principles necessary to becoming science-literate citizens.
Cal Water Town is an interactive program for kids from preschool through fifth grade allowing them to explore a digital town, where they are greeted by guide and town mascot “Mr. Fish,” who explains the use and importance of water throughout the community. Programming is tailored to the grade level and skill sets of the children as they “click around the town” to engage in activities and learn water-related facts. Kids and families learn new ways to change their daily routines to conserve this precious resource, and quizzes are offered along the way to gauge learning and improvement.