Students Raise Community Awareness About Water Conservation for Their Winning Entry
Rachel Lenix's fourth-to sixth-grade club at Downtown Elementary in Bakersfield, Calif., took third place in the 2021 Cal Water H2O Challenge for raising awareness in their community about the drought while sharing tips and information on water conservation. They took home a $2,000 grant for the classroom and a Cal Water prize pack for each student.
The Cal Water H2O Challenge (challenge.calwater.com) is a collaboration between Cal Water, the California Association of Science Educators (CASE), and DoGoodery. The free, project-based competition invites fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade classrooms in Cal Water service areas to develop and implement solutions for local water issues. During the pandemic, Cal Water evolved its model to help bring students a project-based learning opportunity, bearing in mind the limitations of distance learning. For the first time, students were able to focus on designing a water solution, in order to make the challenge more equitable and accessible amid coronavirus restrictions.
For their project, "Are You Up for the Challenge?", the students wanted to do something that would inspire their school community to conserve water. They began by conducting extensive research, which included testing three different local bodies of water and learning about how the drought impacts their agricultural community. After gathering this research, the students created an aquatic newsletter, interactive games, and multiple videos that taught students about water conservation.
Lenix believes that, despite the pandemic, the challenge helped her students have an engaging and enriching school experience. "Participating in the Cal Water H2O Challenge helped my students in ways that could not be experienced in a traditional virtual classroom. In addition, students were given the opportunity to take charge of their learning and develop a stronger voice about their education. These experiences carry over to other subjects and make them stronger, more engaged students,” Lenix said.
Despite the unprecedented challenges this year presented, by integrating water conservation, educational programs, and school curriculum, DoGoodery, CASE, and Cal Water's partnership transcended distance learning and provided a space to connect with students and bring STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) and NGSS (Next-Generation Science Standards) into the virtual classroom.
"We were extremely impressed by Ms. Lenix's sixth-grade students and their ability to educate and inform their peers and community about water conservation," said Ken Jenkins, Cal Water's Director of Water Resource Sustainability. Regarding the impact of this year's competition as a whole, Jenkins said, "They also showed that our next generation's ability to discover and develop solutions to water issues, even during difficult times, will help provide a better future for the communities we serve."
The California Association of Science Educators (CASE) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) member-based community that works to lead the promotion of high-quality, equitable science education through advocacy, collaboration, and communication. Recognizing that science has a profound influence on our lives, our local environments, and our world. CASE fosters a community focused on enhancing scientific and environmental literacy and agency for all. For more information, visit cascience.org.
DoGoodery is a social impact agency with storytelling at the heart of its mission. DoGoodery collaborates with partners through all phases of social impact strategy building and storytelling, delivering goodness to audiences and clients alike and amplifying stories of change that empower, elevate, and excite. For more information visit www.dothegoodery.com.