Youth connect with local water resources

Nearly 70 elementary school children dove into an educational water challenge during New York Water Week. The aspiring environmentalists participated in the EarthEcho International Water Challenge Program on World Water Day, March 22, and came away with a greater understanding and commitment to water.

The challenge, which was led by EarthEcho International in collaboration with Xylem, Inc., and the New York City Football Club, enthralled 67 fourth- and fifth-graders from local public schools with soccer-themed water protection activities. The three-hour educational and immersive experience was held at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island, the oldest continually running aquarium in the United States.

Hands-on education

Challenge organizers have a goal to better connect those who attended with their local water resources. They did this by providing the students with the opportunity to get hands-on learning. Participants walked on the sandy beach in Coney Island and went to the water’s edge to collect samples from the Atlantic Ocean. Students brought those samples back to the aquarium's Education Hall to investigate the health of local water resources.

Water samples were also taken from tanks at the aquarium by the students, who then engaged in activities related to the differences between the ocean and aquarium samples. It led to a discussion on how to determine healthy water, as well as its scarcity.

Students collecting the samples (source: 3EPR)

Water crossing borders

The organizers went further with the water scarcity issue and its importance with the fourth- and fifth-graders who attended. Participants learned about children just like them in other parts of the world who do not have safe water to drink, toilets, or clean water for good hygiene. To emphasize the point, the children participated in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) education activities during the event. It highlighted to the youth participants the consequences of unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene on children their age globally.

A water promise

Children did more than learn about water. They also made a promise to it. Those that participated in the program during New York Water Week also committed to the Xylem "Make Your Mark Pledge" to take meaningful action to protect their local water resources. The oath is a vow by the students to plog (pick up litter while walking or jogging), conduct research on their local waterways, use reusable bags, or donate a water quality test kit.

By the end of the day, the fourth- and fifth-grade students had a deeper understanding of how water connects us all. They also had better realization of water as a resource and what they can do every day to protect it.