Published : Wednesday, May 29, 2013 | 6:02 PM
They’ve done the research, graphed the numbers, analyzed the data and even presented to the Board of Trustees. Now Mayfield Junior School’s 7th grade are sharing their knowledge and spreading awareness throughout the student body. The message? Our water is precious and every drop counts.
The 7th Grade Water Project began as students studied the Mayan culture and explored the role water issues played in its demise. A connection made between our own water issues today challenged the students to take a closer look at water usage and safety in the Mayfield community. Five teams of students were organized to gather as much information as possible while chronicling their findings in detailed blog posts. A Challenge Discovery team researched the water limitations in developing countries. Each team member chose a country, committed to living five days with those same restrictions, and noted not only their successes and failures but how the water limitations changed their daily lives. The Data Analysis team reviewed water bills, both those of the school and volunteer 7th grade families, to assess consumption and make comparisons with historical data from ten years ago. A Tap Water Testing team took water samples from all drinking water sources on campus to analyze for both toxins and taste, and then compared their findings to the Federal government’s safe level ratings. The fifth team, the World Water Use team, specifically studied pressing issues such as shortages, drought, delivery and treatment methods. They zeroed in on Mayfield’s usage and researched ways to reduce waste and long-term costs.
What did they learn? Almost any 7th grader can concisely explain any of the data uncovered in the research phase: how access to water is critical to the survival of any culture and civilization, how today our society takes easily accessible, clean water for granted, and how we should make better choices in how we provide water on campus. The integrated learning experience developed research skills, encouraged critical thinking, reinforced math skills, supported lessons in compassion and social responsibility and provided good training in public speaking and formal presentation. What also evolved out of this exercise was a new appreciation of teamwork and shared mission. Working together with common goals created an incredible dynamic within the class and gave each student the opportunity to contribute. They considered the data, debated, strategized and took ownership of the outcome. In November, with the encouragement of their teachers, they presented to both the administration and the Board of Trustees not only their research, but also a proposal for changes that could make a difference.
With this newfound knowledge, the 7th Grade Water Project has launched an awareness campaign. Students have posted signs with water conservation tips in the hallways and stairwells. Announcements and reminders are promoted weekly to students at Morning Prayer and MJS Family meetings, and to parents in the weekly e-newsletter. They’ve also made it a mission to make plastic water bottles on campus a thing of the past. An arrangement was made with California Fresh, who provides a daily lunch service on campus, to switch from water bottles to large refillable tubs. Reusable water bottles with a custom designed logo were distributed to the student body for a recommended $10 donation with the proceeds purchasing permanent refilling stations for the school.
For more information about Mayfield Junior School visit www.mayfieldjs.org