California Water Service (Cal Water) recently announced the 2016 winners of the company’s H2O Challenge, a project-based, environmentally focused competition for grades four through six in schools served by Cal Water. The competition challenges students to learn the foundations of science through environmental education, while creating projects that raise awareness of environmental principles, particularly water conservation.
This year’s grand prize was awarded to sixth graders from Downtown Elementary School in Bakersfield, CA for their project titled, “Greywater as an Alternative Water Source.” After identifying lawn watering as contributing to local high water usage, the class tested and demonstrated the advantages of using a 50/50 mix of greywater and fresh water to help meet state-mandated water conservation targets.
The students planted sod in boxes they designed and built to determine the ideal percentages of greywater versus fresh water. They also developed brochures and a presentation board to raise awareness of water conservation in their school and community. The class received a $3,500 grant as well as a camping trip to the Santa Monica Mountains through the NatureBridge education program. In addition, all H2O Challenge participants received a Cal Water prize pack with official certificates for students and plaques and AMEX gift cards for their teachers.
Fifth-graders at Murdock Elementary School in Willows, CA earned second place for designing a rain-collection and timed-watering system for the school’s 7,500-square-foot native-plant garden. They also produced water-saving YouTube videos on showering, hand washing and teeth brushing. The class won a $2,500 grant and pizza party for their project titled, “Water Wise…Because Every Drop Counts.”
Third place was awarded to another fifth-grade class at Murdock Elementary School for their “Solution to Pollution” campaign banning the use of plastic water bottles on the school campus. They donated proceeds from the sale of reusable water bottles to organizations providing clean drinking water to developing countries. The students also conducted a water pollution survey in the community, designed the reusable water bottles, wrote letters to local grocery stores encouraging a ban on plastic bags and wrote to the local newspaper urging the community to dispose of used motor oil properly. The class received a $2,000 grant for their project.
Sixth-graders from Shannon Ranch Elementary School in Visalia, CA took fourth place for their “Save Our Water!” project, winning a $1,000 grant for designing a pamphlet on local water issues and water conservation strategies. The students researched local water issues and conservation strategies and engaged with several experts. They distributed their pamphlet to approximately 1,000 households.
In a press release, Cal Water President and CEO Martin A. Kropelnicki noted, “The creative energy the students and teachers at these three elementary schools put into their projects inspire us at Cal Water. The classes demonstrate to us at this pivotal and critical time of water conservation that we can always work together to ensure that our communities can still enjoy an excellent quality of life when we all think wisely about our water use.”
Cal Water’s H2O Challenge was designed in partnership with the North American Association for Environmental Education and the WestEd K-12 Alliance and aligns with the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.