Banner Staff Writer
Nine E.L. Ross Elementary classes are learning about the effects unclean water or the lack of water has on a community.
Kristin Morgan, a fourth-grade teacher at Ross, spearheaded the project. She discovered the idea while Googling water cycle lessons. The proposed challenge-based learning project is two-fold. Students will learn about clean-water needs while making a difference through fundraising.
She arranged early on for Samuel Otiyo, an exchange teacher from Uganda, to speak with the students on the Water Project.
“They definitely really enjoyed it,” Morgan said. “I didn’t meet someone from another country until I was in high school. Being able to talk to someone from Uganda is great for them.”
Teachers carefully addressed stereotypes before Otiyo’s presentation. Students listed what they knew, or thought they knew, of Africans. Morgan and her colleagues then described the stereotypes of Americans. Students did not agree with the average American’s description.
“We discussed how stereotypes really do not describe the man,” Morgan said. “It helped them break down the stereotypes of African people.”
The main question is, “How does lack of access to clean water affect humans?”
Morgan said the main challenge of sustainability is providing communities with access to clean water.
Guiding questions presented to third, fourth and fifth graders include:
n Where does water come from?
n How does water become contaminated?
n What effect does lack of clean water have on education?
n What effect does lack of clean water have on health?
n What effect does lack of clean water have on hunger?
n What effect does the water cycle have on the water crisis?
n What are ways that we use water?
Groups of students will work to answer the guiding questions. Answers to the questions will then be used to provide a solution for the main challenge. Additional guiding activities include: Interviewing an employee from a local water district, surveying students, family and friends to find different ways water is used and visiting the Cleveland Utilities Sewage Treatment plant and interviewing local experts.
Morgan included an outline of how the project aligns with Tennessee state standards for social studies, science, reading and math.
Fundraising will be a core component throughout the project, according to Morgan.
“I think the biggest thing is I want kids to understand they can make a difference, even though we may never see the effect or see these people [we help],” Morgan said.
Continued Morgan, “I want them to know they can change the lives of people in a community. They can help.”
All raised money will go toward building a well in Africa through the Water Project. Morgan said total costs lie anywhere from $7,000 to $8,000. A well will provide clean water for a community for an entire lifetime, according to Morgan.
There will be one major fundraising event each month. Participating E. L. Ross teachers plan to brainstorm for ideas. They have already considered a bake sale and a car wash. Parents will be asked to help out to support the project and cause.
According to the proposal, “Students may choose to do extra chores for money, have a bake sale, make and sale jewelry or ask community members for donations.”
Students will be asked to sacrifice sodas for two weeks in addition to fundraising and classroom activities.
Morgan refers to this event as the “two-week challenge” in her proposal. She said, “This is where students will drink only water for two weeks and donate the money they would have spent on sodas, sports drinks and other beverages to the Water Project.”
The fundraiser will give students a double lesson in giving to others.
A walkathon will mark the end of E. L. Ross’ hometown Water Project. Students will seek out sponsors to donate money for each lap they can walk in a 20-minute period. The laps are approximately 400 meters long.
All students will hold a one-gallon water jug as they walk.
“I am most excited about the walkathon,” Morgan said. “It will be simulating what some people have to do in the African nations. Students will understand they are doing this so others do not have to.”