Washington Students Work to Improve Water Quality

Earth Day Network is proud to report on the successful completion of the Puget Sound Civic Education Project. The project—funded by the Russell Family Foundation—sought to educate and empower community members and students in Puget Sound, Washington to improve local water quality. Over the course of the last year, Earth Day Network worked with the Secondary Academy for Success (SAS) in Bothell, Washington to educate students about water quality issues, incorporate storm water runoff tests into classroom lessons, and organize community outreach events to share their findings.

From October to November of 2012, SAS students were educated about the causes and impacts of poor water quality, as well as possible solutions to the problem. Local community education group Nature Vision taught students about the water cycle and how to identify point and non-point source pollutants from water runoff sites. The students were also given the opportunity to witness a water pumping experiment at the University of Washington.

In December, SAS students began field tasting local water sources, including groundwater and runoff sites. They learned proper groundwater extraction and testing methods, and carefully recorded their data.

At the end of the field testing period, each student completed a Capstone project, allowing them the opportunity to develop real-world, practical solutions to the water quality challenges of the Puget Sound area. One group of students created a plan to develop porous concrete, minimizing the negative effects of storm water runoff.

After completing Capstone projects, students shared their projects with the community at the Living Building UnConference in Seattle and the “Sustainamania” Sustainability Fair in Bothell. At both events, students shared their findings about local water quality and presented the solutions that they developed. Some students were fortunate enough to work directly with architects and city planners to develop a storm water runoff plan for a new high school in the area.

The Puget Sound Civic Education Project was organized in coordination with Earth Day Network’s National Civic Education Project, which helps teachers and students from across the country to combine civic and environmental education with hands-on learning experiences outside the classroom.

To learn more about Earth Day Network’s Green Schools campaign, visit http://edu.earthday.org/