Condensation. Precipitation. Evaporation.
Over the past three weeks, Episcopal sixth graders have learned all about water, the water cycle and the science behind this precious natural resource. Science teacher Stacy Hill covered water in the atmosphere, in the ocean and on the surface of planet earth. But this lesson went well beyond science, even including a message of empathy.
challenges created from the lack of water. The stories of these children introduce readers to the fact that not everyone has fresh water at the ready. Each chapter closes with a cliffhanger, whether it’s a character becoming sick as a result of drinking dirty water or a character grappling with dangerous wildlife or armed soldiers. Hill says her students are captivated by the book. Each class period they want her to read more and they want to know what happens to Nya and Salva. They also want to help, and ask questions such as:
The book also helps students connect and relate to today’s events. Hill says after students heard about the recent water shortage in South Africa she received several questions about rationing. Closer to home, students discussed the state of Baton Rouge’s water and the Southern Hills Aquifer it depends upon. In addition, Hill makes use of technology as students use Google Maps to measure the distance from the aquifer to their own home or even Woodland Ridge, and then map the distance to the nearest bottled water supplier. Students were then asked to think about the distance a bottle of water travels and the price tag associated with it, versus simply turning on their Baton Rouge tap. The classes also discussed the importance of water conservation and the saltwater intrusion that is occurring within the Baton Rouge aquifer as the result of the 150 million gallons of water used each day. All of this in a simple lesson on water.
At the end of the lesson, students had the opportunity to take action. Classes constructed water filters using a water bottle and materials such as sand, gravel and coffee filters. They formed a hypothesis as to which material would be best at filtering the water. They wrote lab reports. They measured and learned about turbidity.
Ultimately, students gained new scientific understanding. However, that won’t be all they take away from the experience. Likely, they will remember the importance of having clean water and what it’s like for those who do not. They may also remember that even their own water could one day be at risk.
Taking a lesson a step further and showing real life applications of a topic characterize an Episcopal education. A lesson such as this truly is so much more than H-2-O.