The polls are in! Kids want to protect our waters

Written by Sandra J. Lebron
Coastkeeper Project Swell 3rd grade

3rd-4th Grade Marine Debris Lesson

How San Diego Coastkeeper took water education to the next level in 2015-2016

Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership) is a completely free, standard-aligned K-6 science curriculum about the importance of San Diego County’s water. Through Project SWELL, San Diego Coastkeeper provides all San Diego Unified School District teachers with free science kits and trainings. The curriculum explores the impacts of humans on our waters through a hands-on course of study focusing on water quality and pollution prevention.

This past school year, Project SWELL got a major boost. Thanks to a generous donor, we hired Julie Earnest as our dedicated education specialist for Project SWELL and the results have been stellar.

San Diego Coastkeeper Project Swell

6th Grade Modeling Pollution in Watersheds Experiment

The 2015-2016 school year was filled with lots of hands-on experiments, watershed models, marine debris activities and storm drain field trips for 4,460 K-6th grade students and 300 teachers. Our tireless and overly enthusiastic education specialist, Julie, offered 83 SWELL presentations in 67 schools in San Diego Unified School District.

To evaluate the effectiveness of Project SWELL, we surveyed students before and after the classroom presentations. The results of the K-6th grade student surveys showed us that more students now understand the importance of keeping our waters clean and have the desire to prevent pollution. But don’t take our word for it — see the results  yourself.

 

Check out how the younger students showed us what they learned with these inspirational art pieces:

Project Swell drawing4 Project Swell drawing5  Project Swell drawing3 Project Swell drawing2

Imagine the next generation of students making responsible environmental decisions because they know we should take care of the environment every day. This could mean a new generation of leaders that will be caring for our planet and teach others to do the same — the ultimate goal of environmental education.

After the classroom presentations, 96 percent of teachers said:

  • The presentation was engaging to their students
  • They would recommend the presentation to a colleague
  • They were more confident incorporating the Project SWELL curriculum into their classroom

Teachers in San Diego County can request a free professional development workshop at their schools whenever they want or join us in our scheduled workshops at the Advanced Water Purification Plant or at the District’s Instructional Media Center.

Since we started visiting schools in 2014, we have brought Project SWELL to a total of 96 schools and 7,362 K-6th grade students. Not bad for a team of two educators, some awesome interns and the support of our local donors and partners.

2nd Grade Student Surveys

2nd grade students showed an increase in learning, with the best improvements in their responses to these questions:

  • Q1: When water goes down the storm drains in San Diego, what happens to that water?
  • Q2: After it rains, why is the ocean in San Diego unsafe for swimming?

Project swell results 2nd grade

 

3rd – 4th Grade Student Surveys

3rd-4th grade students showed an increase in learning, with the best improvements in their responses to these questions:

  • Q2: After it rains, why is the ocean in San Diego unsafe for swimming?
  • Q3: What happens when “invisible” pollutants such as gasoline and fertilizer go into the ocean?

Project swell results 3rd.4th grade

5th Grade Student Surveys

5th grade students showed an increase in learning, with the best improvements in their responses to these questions:

  • Q1: Most of the water in San Diego used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning comes from where?
  • Q2: When water goes down the storm drains in San Diego, what happens to that water?
  • Q4: When water inside homes, schools, and businesses goes down the drain and enters the sewer system, what happens to that water?

Project swell results 5th grade

6th Grade Student Surveys

6th grade students showed an increase in learning, with the best improvements in their responses to these questions:

  • Q2: What features determine the boundary of a watershed?
  • Q4: When rainwater and urban runoff flow into storm drains in San Diego, what happens to that water?
  • Q5: When water from inside our homes flow into the sewer system in San Diego, what happens to that water?

Project swell results 6th grade

There was an average increase learning of 20-56 percent for all groups of 2nd, 3rd/4th, 5th, and 6th graders. Students showed an increase in knowledge about the difference between storm drains and sewers, where San Diego water comes from and how runoff pollution affects the ocean. This could help change behaviors in our students as well as their families and communities as they become advocates of our water resources.

San Diego Coastkeeper Education Programs

If you are not part of San Diego Unified School District, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Thanks to the support of the Port of San Diego, we’ve developed and piloted a new curriculum called Water Education for All. This is available online and has already reached nearly 3,224 children and adults in Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, Coronado, San Diego and National City.

 

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