TUCSON — The Arizona Water Festival, a hands-on event that engages youths in learning about water issues from trained volunteers in their communities, is being presented virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festival, which is ongoing and available online now, is presented by Arizona Project WET, a program under University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. The festival normally includes live events in 26 communities across Arizona, including Casa Grande, Apache Junction, Florence and Maricopa. This year, it has been converted into a series of short online videos about water resources and water-saving technology.
Organizers say the festival, online just in time for Earth Day, was too important not to offer. While it’s meant to appeal to all ages, it specifically includes information that can help Arizona fourth graders meet important learning benchmarks.
“Arizona Project WET knows that water education is an important part of the fourth grade curriculum and takes pride in activating that learning for Arizona students, whether it’s in person or delivered virtually in their homes,” said Kerry Schwartz, UA Cooperative Extension associate specialist and the director of Arizona Project WET.
“Our first priority is to get these students as much interactive learning as possible in their home environment. Secondly, districts are assigning grade-level-specific units on a week-by-week basis, and the four virtual water festival lessons focus on real-world and relevant topics for Arizona, including watersheds and water management, the groundwater system and water conservation technology. The need for three-dimensional learning on these topics is mandated by the new Arizona Science Standards,” Schwartz said.
Since its inception, the festival has engaged 145,320 fourth graders from 5,471 classes and 7,443 parent chaperons in water education events delivered by 8,581 volunteers.
In addition to the festival, Arizona Project WET offers professional development opportunities for Arizona teachers every summer on water stewardship and science, technology, engineering and math literacy as well as direct student outreach.