Water Quality Improvement Through Community Campus Partnerships

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Water Quality Education in Area Elementary Schools
(Lower Big Blue Watershed)

Environmental Communication students share activities with elementary schools in the Big Blue Watershed
concerning the value of clean water.

Dr. Steve Hill engaged eight groups of four students each in Kansas State's AGCOM 712 (Environmental Communications) class in the planning and execution of classroom
teaching activities focused on water quality. The students spent the first six weeks of class gaining theoretical and conceptual knowledge of environmental communications planning and education. In conjunction with Dr. Laura Downey of the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE), teams contacted teachers from elementary schools in the Manhattan area and determined their classroom needs, then conducted weekly sessions with the students over a period of four weeks.

Using exercises from Project WET and WET in the City and training received from Dr.
Downey, teams conducted in-class, hands-on activities (i.e., Sum of the Parts, Common
Water, Just Passing Through, Water Olympics, and Sparkling Water). Teams began as
early as March 9 and concluded their four-session programs as late as April 27. School
sessions were conducted on Thursdays, when teams had approximately four hours of
class and lab time scheduled. There were 32 Kansas State University students involved. In addition, 148 elementary students in eight classes participated in classroom activities.

Among the most promising results of the project appear in AGCOM 712 students' final
reflective essay and portfolio. Qualitative analysis of student portfolios, with the
assistance of NUD*IST software, shows that students believed at least 13 different
professional skills were frequently used and developed during the project. Most
frequently mentioned were teamwork and cooperation; organization, planning and time
management; and communication skills. Sixteen different leadership characteristics were
discussed, and students considered respect for colleagues and students, responsibility and
dependability, creativity, and fairness to be among the skills most used and developed.
Students indicated a strong feeling of having developed professionally and frequently
indicated a strong sense of satisfaction. Several students even indicated the possibility of
a career change and an interest in teaching children, and many indicated a greater comfort
level with working with that target audience.