Over the past several months, I have had the privilege of teaching back to back three-week lessons to 7th grade science students at the Paul and Acton Schools. The program is designed to help students understand where their drinking water comes from, what may be in our water, and why these things are important to understand. Being in my first year with AWWA, this was my first time organizing and implementing a school program on my own. Going in, I was concerned that the kids wouldn’t be interested in what I had to say, how do you get kids to care about their well water? Fortunately, with strong support from the teacher, Gavin Kearns, and my devoted team of volunteers, my fears were instantly relieved. These young students were inquisitive and highly engaged the entire time, and excited about doing a real-world science experiment; testing the water from their own backyards.
I believe the success of this lesson comes from the idea that we aren’t just testing water, we’re testing “our” water. The water that these kids drink and use every day. This is a powerful way to demonstrate how science and the environment impact these students lives, and all of our lives. The ultimate goal of science is not just understanding how the world works, but also how we fit into it and the ways in which we impact the world around us. This message is made a reality when you show kids how science affects their own lives. I am sure these students didn’t all walk away from class with this in mind, but this is okay with me because I also know that sometime you learn the most when you don’t even realize you’re learning. If they talked about it afterwards, or told their parents about it, or maybe even thought it was fun (you never know!) I would consider that to be a success.
Jon Balanoff, Executive Director
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