July 16, 2013

Think Summer! Think Water!

Water DropletWhat is the best thing that has ever happened to you? For one fifth grader, it is being a part of the CIS “Think Summer” program which is running out of Hillside Middle School this summer. “I get to see my friends and learn all kinds of stuff. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me!”

Last week, the third through fifth grade classes learned much about water from environmental experts from the City of Kalamazoo, Mike Wetzel and John Paquin. They brought in a groundwater simulation unit and gave an exciting demonstration for the students as to how water (and pollution) moves underground. The students also had a chance to meet Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner, Pat Crowley, and learn more about storm water and that “clean water is everybody’s business.” As one student later reflected, “It was quite a coincidence that the Drain Commissioner visited us and then later that day we had a horrible storm! I’ll never think of storms in the same way again.”

The following day, volunteers from the Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition and Create Hope Park founder (and KPS parent) Dustin Harback gave students a chance to take what they have learned from the water experts and put their knowledge into action by sharing their own visions for clean, healthy land through art. The students wrapped up by creating water proclamations. The fifth graders urged grown ups to “properly dispose of chemicals and other products by taking them for free to theKalamazoo County Household Hazardous Waste Center. This will help keep our drinking water healthy.” And because they learned that water is everybody’s business, they too, will be taking action. “We will not waste water, we will take shorter showers, turn off water as we brush our teeth, we won’t pollute, and we will think of ways to slow down storm water.”

AmeriCorps VISTA Christina Czuhajewski took the opportunity to talk with several of the students who reflected on their experience. Here are a few excerpts from these conversations.

Christina, with Abriannah who will be entering fourth grade this fall.

What did you think about the presentation yesterday? I liked it a lot.

What did you like? That it was like real life and you got to pump the water out. It was really cool but kind of hard to (pump the water out) because it was stuck in the dirt.

Did you go home and think about what you learned? Yeah I told my mom too. I gave her a sticky note that said “protect our water, that’s what we drink.” She hung it on the refrigerator, and then she put a magnet on the refrigerator that was a rain drop..

Do you have any other comments? I want them to do it again! Because it was really cool. Water week is really cool.

Christina also spoke with Jordyn, who will be entering fifth grade this fall.

What did you like about the presentation? I’ve never thought about water like that before. But after this, I’ll think about it a lot.

Any questions you still have for them? I asked some pretty good questions and they answered them. I asked, “How many gallons do you guys pump up a day or an hour?” and they said, within a week, they pump up thousands and thousands, and they said last summer since it was so hot, for the whole entire summer, they pumped at least a billion gallons of water!…It was pretty cool.

Any other thoughts or comments? I think that I’d like them to come back and show more things about water, and to maybe the high schoolers—that’d be a good thing for the high schoolers to learn. And some of the kids down the hall didn’t get to see it. I was wondering if they could come back another time because that was a cool presentation.

A Water Proclamation

The water in our city of Kalamazoo is clean and healthy.  To make sure that it stays that way and is available to all:

We, the third grade students of  CIS “Think Summer” believe that our lands and water needs to stay clean and not be polluted.

We also believe this about water: No one should be allowed to pollute water and if they do, they should clean it up.

We urge that steps be taken by adults to make sure that all kids have clean water.

We ask that adults not litter, pollute, or put sticky gooey icky stuff in the water and clean up any pollution that is already there.

We will make sure we do not pollute the water. It is all our business.

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