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

Research Year: 

Water quality and availability in the arid West are issues that affect all Arizonans, including youth. Arizona Project WET trains teachers to utilize the relevant topic of water to teach critical thinking and problem solving skills in K-16 classrooms. Administered through the University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center, Project WET assists in building water-related decision making skills in both students and adults. 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 comprises water and education specialists from across the state.

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 teaching support center is available online to supplement lessons, and APW has an active blog and Facebook page.
In 2011, this project developed 34 new workshops and reached 528 educators who report teaching 33,464 students annually. APW staff and facilitators conducted these workshops logging 407 hours of face time. In response to a needs assessment for the Phoenix area, APW teamed with Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability for the 6th year to deliver a 2-day Advanced Water Educators’ workshop, themed Water and Public Perception. The workshop engaged 21 educators who report reaching 1,388 students annually. Another workshop involved 40 4th-6th grade teachers as part of the Biosphere 2 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Academy. These teachers will reach 1,917 students annually with locally relevant STEM education. RinseSmart, a pre-rinse spray valve replacement program targeting area restaurants and commercial industrial/institutional kitchens, was funded June 2010-11.

  • Survey data shows that 97 percent of the teachers participating in the statewide workshops strongly agreed or agreed that “the workshop met my expectations and will have an impact on my teaching,” 96 percent “intend to become a better water steward as a result of this workshop,” 98 percent agreed “the information, strategies and instructional methods presented during the workshop were helpful to me.”  In the Advanced Educator Workshop on Energy and Water, 90 percent of the participants strongly agreed that “I have a better understanding of the relationship between water conservation and public perception.” 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,” “the workshop met my expectations and will have an impact on my teaching,” and that “it was excellent—the best workshop I’ve ever attended.”

  • Results from the STEM focused Water Investigations Program indicate a projected water savings of over 13 million gallons per year from school and home water savings due to installation of water efficient faucet aerators.

  • At a workshop in Phoenix, one teacher wrote, “The instructors successfully modeled how to have fun doing science as well as demonstrating critical thinking and questioning strategies. Loved it! After today, I am thinking of starting an after-school science club for students.”  

  • 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.

  • Through targeted education and water efficiency programs in the first three years (community, K-12, residential and business) in Pinal County, a cumulative 3,610,182 gallons of water is projected to be saved annually due to the installation of water conserving devices through the School Water Audit Program’s Spray Valve Replacement and Water Scene Investigators programs.

  • Volunteers provided 2,658 service hours delivering Arizona Water Festivals, a contribution valued at $55,419 (using Independent Sector value of $20.85). A teacher survey was conducted to evaluate the Arizona Water Festivals. Teachers rate students’ overall reaction to the water festival as excellent 88 percent of the time and good to excellent 100 percent of the time. Since 2000, the AWF program has engaged 48,156 4th grade students in 22 Arizona communities. Hundreds of volunteers have also been trained to deliver effective water education transcending the water festival, as members in the community increase their own water literacy as a result of participating in the program.
Conact Name: 
Kerry Schwartz
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