Kids Get Water Wise at Grove Valley Water Festival Hosted by Oklahoma County Conservation District

image of students with hands raised
Blue Thumb volunteer John Samuel gets students ready for the Incredible Journey.

The schoolyard was filled with laughter as members and volunteers of the Oklahoma County Conservation District (OKCCD) and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) hosted the Grove Valley Water Festival at Grove Valley Elementary School on October 4, 2013. The festival was designed to educate children on the importance of water conservation, stream biology, and the effects humans have on watersheds.

Over 80 fourth graders participated in four educational activities: Macroinvertebrate Mayhem, Common Water, Incredible Journey, and Enviroscape Demonstration. Each activity tackled a different water concern with an emphasis on learning through interaction.

Fun with Bugs

image of students playing
Kim Shaw, OCC Blue Thumb Quality Assurance Officer, referees Macroinvertebrate Mayhem.

Kim Shaw of OCC ran Macroinvertebrate Mayhem like an educational version of red rover, where some students played as water pollutants and others played as macroinvertebrates, such as mayfly larvae. Each macroinvertebrate, or “bug”, had a unique set of movements such as hopping forward and touching their toes or whirling in circles towards the finish. When the whistle blew, the “bugs” had to get past the “pollution” and travel safely downstream. The activity teaches students about both the variety of life living beneath stream rocks and the various vulnerabilities of that life to pollution.

What’s Mine is Yours

In Common Water, a bucket of water served as a static source of groundwater that was shared by all the students. OKCCD’s Becky Inmon walked students through a fictional Oklahoma town’s history as it pertains to this water source. With each passing era, the number of students using the groundwater increased. Students used sponges with drops of food coloring on them to extract water from the bucket, which slowly discolored the water source as time went on. They learned how increased water consumption is depleting and polluting water—driving up costs and damaging ecosystems.

Water Travels

Through the Incredible Journey activity, Blue Thumb volunteer John Samuel and OKCCD’s Don Bartolina taught students about the water cycle by having each student act as a water molecule. As they passed through the various stages of water, from groundwater to oceans to clouds, they collected representative beads to make a bracelet, which marked the occasion and acted as a reminder of the importance of water in all Earth’s environs.

Students finished up their water tour at the Enviroscape Demonstration hosted by OCC’s Debi Carnott. By dripping food coloring on a three-dimensional topographic model of a town, students observed how everyday sources of nonpoint source pollution, such as over-fertilization of lawns, and pet waste flow into storm drains when it rains affecting water quality in streams, rivers and lakes.

It was clear the day was a success as students jostled to have their photos taken while sporting their new water bracelets. “My brother’s gonna be so jealous!” one student shouted.