How to get your kids involved in the fight against the drought
It’s hard enough trying to conserve water as an adult. But what about children, who often have no idea how their actions affect others?
There are many ways to educate children about how best to conserve water and to illustrate just how serious the California drought is. Above all, it’s important to explain that water is a precious resource and not something to be taken for granted.
“Students have to appreciate that water is limited, is used in every aspect of society and that society has to balance many needs to use this precious resource responsibly,” said Adrian Hightower, education unit manager for Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. “Students must appreciate that their food, electricity, fuel, clothes, electronics, hygiene and ecosystem all depend on the responsible use of water.”
Telling students water is precious only goes so far and developing good water-wise habits starts in adolescence. Seeing the water cycle in action can help. Metropolitan offers a unique field trip for students in grades four through 12 designed to illustrate just how important water conservation is.
The excursion brings students to Zanja Madre — the first aqueduct in L.A. — so they can better understand water delivery systems of the past. The trip also includes a stop at Avila Adobe, the oldest building in Los Angeles, so the students can comprehend how citizens of the 1800s dealt with water in everyday life.
Metropolitan also provides a Source, Treatment and Distribution Model during the trip so kids can see modern water delivery systems in action, and a map details how water comes to Southern California.
Another immersive learning opportunity is a trip to Metropolitan’s Diamond Valley Lake, an 800,000-plus-acre-foot reservoir in Riverside County. There, students do hands-on learning that relates water to science, history, language arts and mathematics. The trip includes a visit to the DVL Clayton Record Viewpoint overlooking the reservoir.
By special arrangement, high school and college students can take a field trip to Metropolitan’s water quality lab to watch chemists and microbiologists conduct experiments, simulations and tests. Students can also visit the board room to debate and learn about contemporary water issues as they play the roles of residents and business owners and Metropolitan board members.
“Students are inundated with messages about water,” Hightower said. “Many times those messages are either too complex or below their interests. Students best learn the importance of water through interdisciplinary approaches that reveal the prevalence of water in their lives. At different grades students can be exposed to the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, economics, history and social studies around society’s use of water.
“The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California works with educational partners to provide curriculum and programs [pre-kindergarten to college] that promote students’ critical thinking about water. ”
MWD offers lesson plans tailored to different grades. The curricula offer hands-on and inquiry-based approaches to the issues faced by the water industry.
Education, however, doesn’t stop in the classroom. It’s equally important for parents to practice good habits at home.
“Parents can teach their children, just as children can teach their parents, how to save water,” Hightower said. “Parents can explain to children how their family’s use of water impacts their neighbors and the environment we share. Children can remind their parents of practical habits around the home that can save water, like turning the water off while brushing your teeth, don’t water sidewalks, etc.”
Once children understand that water isn’t something to be wasted — that it’s not as simple as turning on the faucet and using as much as you want — conservation efforts will be helped tremendously.
After all, good habits are formed in childhood then passed on from generation to generation.
— Tribune Content Solutions
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