Westchester third graders learn about water conservationSome Westchester Elementary Third Graders explain to their parents what they learned about the creek running through their school's playground. Photo by Gabriel Owens
By Gabriel Owens, contributor
In a “Celebration of Learning” held on Friday, the Westchester Elementary Third Grade Class of 2017-18 explored the concept of water conservation with an in depth study and got a chance to teach it back to their parents.
“Our water study helped us build our understanding of water and helped us to see how our water is connected to all water,” said student Eden Pinstein. “We are all part of ‘One Well.’”
The study by the students has been ongoing for several months, starting with the basic concept of the importance of water to life on Earth and down to how much the students use water every day. The kids started with studying the creek behind the school and monitoring how much water is used in their households every day.
The Westchester project is the kick off residency for the Zara Fund Arts Infusion program that the Decatur Education Foundation has started.
“The specifics of what the Westchester 3rd graders did, and how that community stepped up to support them, is all good stuff,” said Jeff Mather, director of the project. “And the way that this project will serve as a model for expanding arts infusion partnership projects to all other Decatur schools is even cooler.”
The school brought in an Environmental Protection Agency expert to help the students assess their school’s creek. The students also assessed the condition of the creek’s surrounding areas and the quality of the water itself. While at home, the children wrote down every instance of water usage, from toilet flushes, baths and showers, even down to refilling the family dog’s water bowl.
The overall lesson the kids learned was that water is the foundation for everyday living for people and the planet. On Friday, parents came by the school and take a tour of everything they’ve been exploring on the subject.
After walking the halls of Westchester viewing essays and diagrams about water conservation lining the school’s hallways, the parents were marched around to the back of the school to view the creek and a sculpture created for the creek and the project, while being serenaded with the song “Water Is Life” by Sara Thomsen, sung by the entire third grade class.
“The song resonated with students and they decided it would be our final song for our celebration of learning,” Westchester Principal Rochelle Lofstrand said.
During their study of the creek, the students noticed that it had not been named.
“We wrote letters to [Superintendent David Dude] and Ms. Loftstrand to convince them that the creek should be named Wolfpack Creek,” said student Vivian Coffin. “We were successful and were able to send their letters of recommendation to the [City of Decatur] government.”
The school’s mascot is The Wolves.
The students will continue their environmental science education for the rest of the year, expanding on where they started with the creek in the back, to other issues like acid rain, mining, and automotive emissions.