Cal Water H2O Challenge competition launched for fourth through sixth grade classrooms

By on December 20, 2017

California Water Service (Cal Water) has announced the launch of its fourth annual Cal Water H2O Challenge along with its partner, the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). The competition allows fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade classrooms in Cal Water service areas to compete against their peers for classroom cash prizes and an overnight filed trip by planning, designing and employing their strategy for local water conservation issues.

The contest is a classroom project-based contest for designed to enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of water-based science concepts and conservation. The competition allows teachers to incorporate English, math, and language arts Common Core State Standards into a hands-on learning project, and complements Next Generation Science Standards. Classroom teachers with participating students will receive expert, monetary and technical support through educational resources and consultants throughout the competition.

“The students participating in the Cal Water H2O Challenge continually inspire us with their creativity and viable, real-life solutions,” said Martin A. Kropelnicki, Cal Water president and CEO. “Their innovations benefit our state and encourage their communities to actively address water conservation. We’re sure this year will be equally rewarding.”

Last year’s grand-prize winner, Emily Akimoto and her fifth-grade students from Sierra View Elementary in Chico developed a project motivated by the water quality disaster in Flint, MI and they began to measure the levels of constituents in the water at their school. Ms. Akimoto explains the impact of the project on her class: “My students were so excited about this project, and that excitement translated into authentic learning. My students were willing to give their own time, often spending their lunches in my classroom researching and writing. They would work at home. They found ways to use technology to collaborate with each other. In short, their excitement for learning and passion for the project was something that could have never come from a textbook.”

The competition allows students and their teachers will initiate, develop, and implement a project focused on a community-based water issue over four to eight weeks. Each portfolio submission will include a description of the project goals, student research, science and/or engineering experimentation, actions to solve a local water issue, public outreach efforts and student/teacher reflections.

The grand prize-winning classroom will receive $3,500 and an all-expenses-paid, tent-camping trip for the classroom’s students to the Santa Monica Mountains with NatureBridge for a nature and science education experience. Other winning classes will receive other grant amounts and additional prizes for students and teachers. Early registering classrooms will be entered into a lottery for a chance to win one of 20 $500 grants.

Although the early registration deadline is Sunday, Dec. 31, the final registration deadline is Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. The project submission deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 28. Winners will b e announced at an awards celebration in April 2018.

Christiane Maertens, NAAEE deputy director, clearly sees the benefits of the Cal Water H2O Challenge. “The Cal Water H2O Challenge shows how involving students in hands-on, water conservation projects leads them to grasp the importance of local and global natural resources,” Maertens said. “The program is creating next-generation conservationists. Students are walking away with stronger values of social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and community involvement.”