This story is part of our Be Water Wise series. Each week we will be educating Utahns on water usage and conservation. Special thanks to The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District and Cynthia Bee for helping coordinate information.
OREM, Utah (ABC4) – Teachers and students throughout Utah are getting an exemplary education on where their water comes from and how to use it wisely thanks to the efforts of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.
The CUWCD is helping teachers get their hands wet when it comes to learning about water in Utah. Through a series of trainings offered by the Water District teachers get a mix of science and social studies to tell the story of our most precious resource: water.
“We ask a lot of our educators, which is why it is so critical for subject matter experts to provide teachers with the tools and curriculums that help students better understand the world around them. This is especially true for water,” said Shannon Babb, Instructional/Curriculum Specialist with the CUWCD. “Water is a precious resource that touches every single student’s life every single day, and it is so important for Utahans to learn about the natural processes, infrastructures, and careers that interact with that water as it moves across the landscape.”
The Water District offers in-person training for fifth to eighth-grade educators, where teachers can earn educational hours. The day-long training is full of demonstrations and information and in addition, puts curriculum and supplies directly into classrooms.
In areas where teachers may not be able to make it to the training and still want the curriculum for their classes, Central Utah Water has created The Story of Utah Waterways STEM checkout kits. The kits were made in collaboration with the Utah STEM Action Center and CUWCD reports they are some of the most popular kits checked out by Utah teachers.
“We develop resources that are locked to Utah’s education standards and that are based around the water-related topics that teachers have indicated are the least comfortable teaching,” Babb said. “This partnership between subject matter experts and teachers has been critical to the success of Central Utah Water’s education efforts.”
As part of the curriculum, the CUWCD has produced a series of videos geared specifically for kids that give them a glimpse of where their water comes from and what it takes to make it from lakes and streams into their Stanley mugs. Those lessons make an impact on the students and when they are engaged with the way the lessons are taught, they are more likely to put them into practice.
“People will only protect and conserve resources that they care about,” Babb relates. “That is why it is so important for students to learn about their local waterways and have the opportunity to work with real-world data sets while in school.”
The training allows teachers to rise to the top when it comes to learning the materials. Babb said that the exciting part of the training is the level at which the teachers are instructed.
“It allows classroom educators to work directly with subject matter experts. They get to learn about how our water system works by interacting with hydrologists, chemists, water treatment operators, and more. Those teaching moments pay off because over 95% of teachers have implemented at least one of the concepts they learned during the training within six months of them attending one of the workshops.”
Educators interested in learning more about the curriculum and trainings can contact Shannon Babb, at the Central Utah Water Conservancy District (Shannon@cuwcd.gov) and check out their School Curriculum page on their website for teaching ideas and links.