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Educate. Empower. Act. The mission of Project WET is to reach children, parents, educators and communities of the world with water education. We invite you to join us in educating children about the most precious resource on the planet — water.
Today was another day full of new information and getting acquainted with the Project WET Foundation's work and how I will fit in this summer.
I began my day researching studies on the concept that When we educate children, we educate parents. The idea that children take home the things they learn and in turn educate their parents is not a foreign one. However, it is also not well documented in scientific literature. This article in the UK's Guardian newspaper discusses how many children in the United Kingdom go home from their "Eco-Schools" and end up introducing their parents to environmental practices ranging from recycling and reducing water use to using non-motor transportation whenever possible. The article talks about children's ability to influence their parents in ways media and politicians cannot. Such anecdotes are easy to find, but the more specific focus is more difficult to find in scientific literature. So far, the search term "intergenerational learning" has come up with the most research papers on the topic. This research question-Does educating children in fact educate their parents?-will be part of my focus and time during this internship.
After some time spent researching, I sat in on a staff meeting updating the project team on the status of Project WET's latest children's activity booklet, "Discover the Yellowstone River." The 16-page booklet takes a water-science-based approach to teaching children about the Yellowstone River's hydrology, management challenges and opportunities. The draft was beautiful-visually and intellectually. Peter Grosshauser's illustrations are stunning, as usual (he illustrates nearly all Project WET publications), but what delighted me even more was the content.
I just finished a graduate course on River Restoration and learned that many people do not grasp (or want to acknowledge) that rivers are dynamic and tend not to stay in one channel. Evidence of managers historically overlooking this fact is littered across watersheds, where endless effort and resources are spent trying to keep a river in a stationary channel, usually because something was built where the river now wants to go. It makes me wonder: what would river managers have done differently if they had encountered a book like "Discover the Yellowstone River" in their youth? Would the pages on river dynamics have influenced later decisions to develop in a floodplain? Would the page where children fill out their own hydrograph for the Yellowstone River have influenced their decision? I am truly thrilled there are materials like this out there capable of engaging children in active science-based learning. "Discover the Yellowstone River" is on track for publishing soon and will be available later this summer.