Arizona Project WET (Water Education for Teachers): Water Stewardship

Research Year: 
2010
Issue: 

Water quality and availability in the arid West are issues that affect all Arizonans, including youth. By training teachers to present water awareness education in K-16 classrooms, Arizona Project WET (APW; “WET” stands for “Water Education for Teachers”), administered through the University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center, assists in building water-related decision making skills in both students and adults. APW is recognized as the only comprehensive water education program for K-16 audiences with a statewide partnership and delivery system. APW programming also assists city water conservation staff in meeting Groundwater Management Act requirements and helps private water company staff in meeting Corporation Commission best management practices. The APW Advisory Council, consisting of water and education specialists from across the state, guides program promotion and long-term sustainability planning.

Description of Action: 

Water education curricula are developed and administered by water resource specialists working together with teachers—all curricula meet state academic standards. In addition to curriculum guides, other teaching tools include drinking water and stream water testing kits, macroinvertebrate sampling kits, watershed models, groundwater flow models and history trunks. A new teaching support center is available online to supplement lessons, and APW has an active blog and Facebook page. In 2010, 52 newly developed workshops reached 733 educators who report teaching 30,408 students annually. APW staff and facilitators conducted these workshops logging 465 hours of face time. Workshops varied in content depending on the needs of various communities and groups. In response to a needs assessment for the Phoenix area, APW teamed with Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability for the fifth year in a row to deliver a two-day Advanced Water Educators’ workshop: Water and Agriculture. Seven experts from UA, ASU and the Phoenix community presented. The workshop engaged 22 educators who report reaching 2,357 students annually. Another workshop involved 46 K-3 teachers who were part of the Biosphere 2 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Academy. These teachers will reach 1,864 students annually with locally relevant STEM education. Also, a Northern Arizona University workshop taught 36 pre-service teachers how to teach relevant water topics through interactive APW lessons.

Impact: 

Survey data shows that 97 percent of the teachers participating in the statewide workshops strongly agreed or agreed that “the resource materials provided will be helpful for teaching about water & environment,” 96 percent agreed “the information, strategies and instructional methods presented during the workshop were helpful to me; 93 percent “intend to become a better water steward as a result of an APW workshop,” and 94 percent said “the workshop activities were relevant and improved my knowledge." In the Advanced Educator Workshop on Energy and Water, 100 percent of the participants strongly agreed with the statements “The workshop was excellent—one of the best I’ve ever attended; and “I have a better understanding of the relationship between water and agriculture.” After the Biosphere 2 STEM Academy for K-3 Teachers, 100 percent of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that “the workshop activities were relevant and improved my knowledge” and “the workshop met my expectations and will have an impact on my teaching. Ninety-eight percent thought it was excellent—the best workshop they’d ever attended.

At a teacher workshop in Phoenix, comments included, “This workshop answered questions about all you wanted to know about water but were afraid to ask” and “this curriculum has changed the disenfranchised culture of our school to one of empowered stewardship!”’ In Tucson , a RinseSmart program taught in schools has replaced 667 pre-rinse spray valves which will save an estimated 37,055,160 gallons per year in the Tucson service area.

Conact Name: 
Kerry Schwartz
Contact E-mail: