Water Knowledge is Student Power

It’s hard to imagine anything more fundamentally important than the water in our communities, which we rely on for drinking, fishing, and swimming. But how many of us really know how healthy it is? Last week, people all over the world looked for answers about the quality of water in their communities as part of World Water Monitoring Day. The event aims to build awareness and engage citizens in protecting water resources by having them conduct monitoring of their local water bodies.

This past Wednesday, I had the chance to accompany 100 bright-eyed fifth-grade students to Denver’s Confluence Park, where the South Platte River meets Cherry Creek to do some water quality testing.

Students from Denver’s Teller Elementary School and Aurora’s Fletcher Intermediate School participated in various hands-on learning activities about local water issues. They measured the water quality of both waterways by conducting tests for pH, turbidity, temperature and dissolved oxygen and by identifying aquatic insects, which are indicators for ecosystem health.

Dalynn Blethetr from Fletcher Intermediate School understood the importance of protecting our local water sources. “We learned how fish can live in here with the pollution and if they’re comfortable with it or uncomfortable with it . . . If we drink unhealthy water we would get sick,” she said.

High schoolers from a service-learning group at Denver School of Science and Technology participated as mentors and were impressed by the excitement of the students. One mentor I spoke with told me about the student he worked with, “it felt like she was teaching us.” Sounds like these young people aren’t the leaders of tomorrow, they’re the leaders of today.