When local schools began closing in March 2020 due to COVID-19, our utility’s education team quickly adapted the normal in-person field trips to live, virtual programs that fit science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
“First we sent out surveys to teachers to find out what they needed – and how best to support them”, explained Susan Tallarico, Education Supervisor.
From this feedback, we created new curriculum that could still be hands-on and engaging in an online format. We began piloting the programs in May to school classes and families at home. The programs use water as a way for students to learn about real world problems and solutions.
Here’s some of the feedback from teachers and families:
“The hands-on activities we perfect. Simple enough to do at home but really clear on what it was trying to teach.”
“It was so well organized. The info was clear and well-presented. The photos showed the students exactly what was discussed. The hands-on activities were perfect. I think you nailed it!”
“The kids learned a lot, but I did too. I was listening in while doing other things in the kitchen and learned what we can do to help the environment-I am changing our household cleaners and telling everyone not to use flushable wipes. We even looked up fatbergs as suggested. GROSS! Great class!”
“The kids stayed engaged the whole time with the format of questions and experiment. They learned without even realizing it.”
“It was engaging for the age group, with good activities and water conservation messages and best practices.”
Using lessons learned and evaluation feedback from the spring pilot programs, the education team developed a series of virtual programs for K-12 classes for the 2020-2021 school year. Schools can choose from a catalog of lessons, up to 6 sessions, that explore the impacts that humans have on water. Participants will explore King County sewer and stormwater systems, take a virtual treatment plant tour, carry out hands-on investigations, and learn how to become stewards of their water.
Video-taped versions of our core programs and tours of the treatment plants will be available for individual families or teachers who do not need live sessions. Programs also include pre-lesson activities for students to complete on their own, as well as optional activities to deepen student’s understanding and to connect additional subject areas. To learn more about the virtual programs and access a variety of education resources, go to https://www.kingcounty.gov/services/environment/wastewater/education.aspx