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Updated: 1 year 16 weeks ago

Photo Essay: Water Festivals Teach More Than 14,000 Arizona 4th Graders About Water

Wed, 2018-04-18 15:40

Arizona Project WET has held 20 Arizona Water Festivals in the 2017-18 school year in nine counties across the state, with two more to come. Festivals this year have reached 14,047 fourth grade student participants, along with 533 of their teachers. Below are some pictures taken from this school year's festivals:

Students in Gilbert explore watersheds using a 3-D model. (Photo by Arizona Project WET Staff)

In Tucson, students at a water festival use a Groundwater Flow Model to discover how water moves underground. (Photo by Matt Stamp, Amphitheater Public Schools)

Two students at the Madison Water Festival work together on a groundwater activity. (Photo by Arizona Project WET Staff)

Using a spray bottle and 3-D model, students in Tucson learn that water always moves downhill. (Photo by Matt Stamp, Amphitheater Public Schools)

A Tucson student becomes a water drop moving through the water cycle in the “Incredible Journey” activity. (Photo by Matt Stamp, Amphitheater Public Schools)

To learn more about Arizona Project WET, visit their website or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Drying Dilemma

Thu, 2018-04-12 16:21

Bathroom hand dryers are in the news, and it's not pretty. Live Science writer Mindy Weisberger says, "Restroom hand dryers don't just blow — they also suck," Weisberger writes. "When they hoover up air, they also siphon in bacteria, which includes microbes carried into the room on people's skin, and those left behind by waste after a person uses and flushes a lidless toilet. Then, after sucking these microbes up, the dryers spew them out again — in abundance, according to a recent study."

CBS Pittsburgh goes for the full gross-out, "Bathroom Hand Dryers Spray Feces Particles On Your Hands, Study Says":

So what's a responsible hand washer to do once they've washed their hands for the recommended 20 seconds? Ideally, we recommend shaking your hands to get most of the water off and then drying them with a clean towel or paper towel. (This cool and practical TED Talk shows how to use a 12-shake method to minimize the amount of paper towel needed.) However, many establishments have jettisoned paper towels entirely in favor of hand dryers. In that case, sticking with the shake is probably your best option.

Handwashing remains one of the most powerful actions you can take to protect yourself from germs. This study, the findings of which were originally published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, doesn't change that. But it's a good reminder that handwashing is a process. Despite how many times a day we do it, we can always use a reminder about how to properly wash your hands. To spread the word (and not the germs) to the people in your life, download and print out this free poster from Project WET and Ecolab:

Guest Post: Up Close and Personal with the Launch to the ISS

Wed, 2018-03-28 13:25

Because he was in quarantine before the launch, Ricky had to remain behind glass when seeing Cindy and his other friends and family By Cindy Etgen, Maryland Project WET Coordinator

Project WET Maryland Coordinator Cindy Etgen had a front-row seat, literally, to Astronaut Ricky Arnold’s liftoff to the International Space Station. She and her husband, Lou, are longtime personal friends of the Arnold family and had been invited to be a part of Ricky’s journey to the ISS. She told us about her experiences in this guest post.

When Ricky and his family asked us to join them on this journey, we did not hesitate for a second. We have spent the last 15+ years traveling several times a year with the Arnold family: For us this was another family adventure. Being able to support his wife and daughters through a very emotional and stressful trip was important to both Lou and me. We were there for Ricky’s Discovery launch in 2009, and we wanted to be there for them this time as well.

At Star City, Cindy got to see a mock-up of the launch vehicle that Ricky and his colleagues would be using The whole trip involved much more than just witnessing the launch. NASA prepared a very full schedule for family and friends of both Ricky and the other astronaut flying to the ISS, Drew Feustel. Our time in Russia included tours, visits to Red Square and other historical sites in Moscow and a visit to Star City, where the cosmonauts and astronauts train. At Star City, we got to see where Ricky lived during his training in Russia. We also got to see mock-ups of the Mir Space Station and the Russian components of the International Space Station. Seeing the size of the capsule that Ricky would be traveling in for 48 hours on his way to the ISS was mind-boggling. Three men would be sitting in an area roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle for the launch. Another area about the same size is attached above for eating, removing their spacesuits and for resting.

Ricky's family and friends got to attend the press conference before the launch in Baikonur After Moscow, we traveled to the small Russian enclave of Baikonur, Kazakhstan, where we got to see the rollout of the Soyuz vehicle via train to the launch pad. The raising of the rocket on the pad came next. We did get to see Ricky more often this time than we had during his Discovery launch—although he was always behind glass because he was in quarantine. We had time to talk to him with just our small family group, and we were able to attend the press conference as well. During his walk outs—to the bus leaving for the launch site in their blue flight suits and then again at the launch site to the Soyuz rocket in their space suits—we were incredibly close, in the front row, and he could always see that we were there cheering him on. Ricky always tried to get as close to us as he could!

After experiencing the Discovery launch, where the closest viewing point was about 4 miles away, being able to view the Soyuz rocket launch from 9/10 of a mile was beyond amazing. Front row seats! And what a view it was!

Ricky's supporters could see him on the walk outs to the launch site bus Our last stop before the airport back in Moscow was Russian Mission Control to watch the Docking and Hatch opening. That meant more tours, more celebrating and more tears of happiness!

I am still processing this adventure, so much of it was surreal. However, I know that I will always remember my experience and, in particular, three things:

As you can see by the pictures, Ricky always had a smile on his face. He is incredibly happy. He is pursuing his dreams with the support of the people who love him most. By going on this journey, he has given us the adventure of a lifetime. His happiness reminds me that you should never give up on your dreams, no matter how big. With persistence, hard work and joy, anything is obtainable.

Cindy Etgen and her husband, Lou, in front of the Soyuz I will also remember our NASA escorts, Kelly and Tom. They handled all of the crazy details with grace, humor and professionalism. We met so many incredible people, many of them astronauts, and they were kind, funny and always willing to answer questions. We had a great time having meals together, and they bonded with our crazy group, often staying up with us into the late hours.

Finally, from the water realm, I was reminded yet again to never take for granted clean water coming out of our faucets. In Moscow, the water that came out of the shower was often brown, and in Baikonur we had to use bottled water even to brush our teeth. When you go to a country where you can’t drink the water, eat fresh salads or eat fruit that can’t be peeled, it puts things in perspective. In most places in the United States, we have ready access to fresh, potable water. When you travel abroad, it quickly reminds you that so many do not have the advantages of clean, safe water.

NASA announced that September 2017 to September 2018 is A Year of Education on Station for the International Space Station (ISS), featuring a variety of education-related events for students and teachers. Astronaut Richard (Ricky) Arnold, a volunteer board member for the Project WET Foundation, is the educator on board the ISS for the latter half of this year—from March to September 2018. The Project WET Foundation is developing numerous educational offerings to coincide with Ricky's journey and the Year of Education. To see all of the resources, visit projectwet.org/outofthisworld.

New Activity Booklet Helps Kids Understand the Links Between Food, Water and Agriculture

Tue, 2018-03-20 15:36

Water, Agriculture and Food is Project WET's newest children's activity booklet FOR RELEASE: March 20, 2018

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Four out of five Americans today live in urban areas. For most kids, that makes the labor—and the water—that goes into producing food largely invisible. A new children’s activity booklet, “Water, Agriculture and Food”, addresses how and where food is grown, as well as the link between the food we eat and the water we all must share to meet the needs of a growing population. “Water, Agriculture and Food” will be available for purchase as a digital download on World Water Day, and in print in early April.

“Agriculture provides everything we eat and many items that we wear and use every day,” said Dennis Nelson, president and CEO of the Project WET Foundation, the nonprofit water education organization that developed the booklet. “Even so, very few kids actually understand the contribution that farmers and ranchers make to society, and fewer still grasp the relationship between food and water. ‘Water, Agriculture and Food’ will help young people make these connections.”

A 16-page resource that kids can use on their own or with guidance from a teacher or parent, “Water, Agriculture and Food” features eight interactive, two-page spreads with games, exercises, experiments and assessments. Readers will learn about food from farm to fork, including the role of risk, land and water stewardship, technology and innovation in agriculture.

"Water, Agriculture and Food" was developed thanks in part to a donation from Doris Griffin, in honor of her late husband, Stanley “Stan” Griffin, a North Dakota farmer, rancher and teacher.

“Stan enjoyed thinking of ways to educate children and others about water, not only from an academic point of view, but mostly because as a farmer and rancher, he dealt with water issues and challenges every day,” Nelson explained.

In addition to the support from the Griffins, a survey of the Project WET USA Network ranked water and agriculture as their number one topic for a new KIDs booklet. The donation and the networks input together helped launch the development of the resource, which represents Project WET’s 61st title in the Kids In Discovery series of activity booklets. The next KIDs booklet will be “Water and Cities”; development is underway now.

Sign up for Project WET's mailing list and check your email on Thursday, March 22nd, for easy instructions on how to download a special FREE digital copy in honor of World Water Day. After Thursday the cost for the digital download is $0.99 and the printed version is $1.25. For more information about this publication, including bulk discounts and co-branding options, contact sales@projectwet.org.


Celebrating an Out of this World Water Day

Mon, 2018-03-19 16:09

Project WET has an exciting week ahead! World Water Day is on Thursday, March 22nd, and Astronaut and Project WET volunteer board member Ricky Arnold is scheduled to lift off to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, March 21st. We're also launching our newest children's activity booklet, Water, Agriculture & Food!

Here's the scoop on our stellar, interstellar World Water Day offerings:

Water Use Challenge

The Out of this World Water Use Challenge is a fun and interactive digital activity for ages eight and up. Learn about your personal water use, how much you can save each day and compare that to how much water an astronaut uses in a day! Project WET will tally a running total of gallons of water saved by you and people all over the world. 

Lesson Plan

The free Out of this World Lesson Plan contains suggestions on how to use 15 of Project WET’s award-winning activities to relate to the ISS. There is something for all levels from K-12 including standards correlations, NASA videos and resources and digital games to review learning. Several of the activities listed in the lesson plan are available for immediate download on the Project WET Store. Other activities are found only in the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide 2.0, available to educators who have completed a workshop with a local Project WET partner. Contact your local Project WET Coordinator for information on workshops near you.

Watch the Launch!

Ricky launches at 11:44 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21st, in Kazakhstan. That is 1:44 p.m. EDT. You can watch the launch live on NASA TV!

World Water Day Publication Launch

The highly anticipated Water, Agriculture & Food children's activity booklet is available on World Water Day, and in honor of the day, the PDF download will be FREE! After Thursday the cost for the digital download is $0.99. The printed version (which is available now for preorder, with delivery in late April) is $1.25.

#AstroFriday: A Teacher in Space

Fri, 2018-03-09 11:48

The final #AstroFriday question highlights Ricky's perspective as a former classroom teacher embarking on the second half of NASA's Year of Education on Station, a unified campaign aimed at providing both teachers and students with educational materials and opportunities. 

PWF: As an astronaut who is also a former classroom teacher, you have unique insights into the way education intersects with the real-world science, technology, engineering and math underway on the ISS. Where does water education fit in to that? How is it important?

Astronaut Ricky Arnold: Understanding water as both a rather unique molecule and a finite resource is fundamental to understanding and protecting life here on Earth. Human beings have difficulty understanding things on a large scale—time, the cosmos, even something as seemingly limitless as our atmosphere and our oceans. Education focused on localized impacts within a global context is vitally important if we really want to make progress on major water-related issues like climate change.

Q&A in Pictures


South Carolina Project WET Coordinator Named Outstanding Conservation District Employee

Tue, 2018-03-06 14:16

South Carolina Coordinator Lynn Pilewski was recently recognized as the 2017 South Carolina Outstanding Conservation District Employee Lynn Pilewski, the Education Program Coordinator for the Greenville County Soil & Water Conservation District and a Project WET Coordinator, was recently recognized as the 2017 South Carolina Outstanding Conservation District Employee. The award recognizes professionalism and dedication to conservation district programs. Over the past four years, Lynn has successfully raised awareness of soil and water conservation at local, regional and national levels while implementing extraordinary programs at home.

A Project WET Coordinator since 2015, Lynn has helped more than 200 South Carolina teachers incorporate water education in the classroom. She has generated and spread nationally recognized campaigns, including Clean Water Starts With Me, a set of custom stormwater pollution arcade games, and There Is No Poop Fairy. These engaging campaigns help the public understand their role in preventing stormwater pollution and have educated more than 50,000 students in the past year.

Lynn has also worked hard to bring the District’s environmental message to the public through radio and TV appearances, blog posts and event booths throughout Greenville County. She has helped plan four conferences in Greenville—including the Project WET USA Conference in 2016—and has presented at nine state, regional and national conferences. As a professional photographer, graphic and web designer, she has helped transform the District’s education outreach materials and online presence.

We congratulate Lynn on her award and thank her for her work bringing Project WET and water education to South Carolina!

#AstroFriday: Bringing ISS Lessons to Earth

Fri, 2018-03-02 12:08

Today's #AstroFriday question concerns how the technology and knowledge that astronauts use on the International Space Station could benefit people on Earth.

PWF: What solutions for water conservation and reuse that are used on the ISS could be applicable to addressing water problems on Earth?

Astronaut Ricky Arnold: The technology for conservation and reuse is there and getting better all the time. As mentioned earlier, helping to shift attitudes about reuse is an area where I believe the space station can also help.

Q&A in Pictures



#AstroFriday: To Mars and Beyond?

Fri, 2018-02-23 15:19

This week's #AstroFriday question looks ahead to Mars and beyond!

Project WET Foundation: What role does water play in NASA's plans to explore the universe?

Astronaut Ricky Arnold: We need to continue developing technologies that allow us to reprocess water as efficiently as possible and develop ways to harvest available water resources from any planets we visit. Mars has ample sources of water within its soil to accomplish this.

Q&A in Pictures



Mars image available in full here: https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/pia21554/a-mass-of-viscous-flow-features

#AstroFriday: Is the Earth Losing Water to Space?

Fri, 2018-02-16 15:12

This week's #AstroFriday question was submitted by Chuck Dugan of Arizona Project WET.

Chuck: During many of my lessons to my Pinal County fourth grades, I teach that (generally) Earth is a CLOSED system as far as water is concerned. We do not 'leak water' into space, and there are no 'water trucks' delivering new water to our planet! That, in general, the amount of TOTAL WATER we have on the planet is the SAME AMOUNT we've always had; the water we drink today is the same water that dinosaurs were doing what dinosaurs do in their water tens of millions of years ago. Drought is a much more complicated issue related to PERCENTAGE of FRESH and ACCESSIBLE water available to an expanding population in changing weather and planetary conditions. Yet, we hear of planets like Mars, where there WAS water and an atmosphere millions or even billions of years ago. On Mars, much of the atmosphere has been lost, and the water has largely 'gone to ground', or been lost to space over millennia. My question then is...Is there a process by which Earth is actually LOSING WATER to space? If so, can it be measured and tracked? Given our planet's mass, position in the solar system, and with its protective atmosphere, I'm not aware that we are losing water to outer space, but I'd like to confirm this hypothesis.

Astronaut Ricky Arnold: You are correct. Earth is not losing water at a meaningful rate because Earth, unlike Mars, has a cold trap in the stratosphere that freezes out most water and keeps it closer to the Earth's surface. Additionally, higher up in the atmosphere there is an ozone layer that blocks ultraviolet radiation that would otherwise split up water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, allowing the very light hydrogen to escape.  Finally, the Earth's higher escape velocity (due to greater mass and thus gravity) helps it hold on to all of its atmospheric constituents better than Mars.

Q&A in Pictures



#AstroFriday: How Does Being In Space Impact How You See Water on Earth?

Fri, 2018-02-09 16:09

This week's #AstroFriday question is about how Ricky's time in space has affected his views about water on Earth.

Project WET: Based on your experiences in space now and on your first mission, have you changed how you use water, or do you plan to when you return to Earth?

Astronaut Ricky Arnold: My attitudes about where water comes from have certainly changed, and that is something I'll continue to share when I get back. With so many communities around the world suffering from a lack of potable water, we'll all need to continue to work to overcome our understandable bias against water from sources such as urine-processing.

Q&A in Pictures


#AstroFriday: How Is Water Used Differently in Space?

Fri, 2018-02-02 16:30

The #AstroFriday question for this week is about how astronauts use water in space.

Project WET: What are the most challenging things that you have to do in space with less or even no water? Is water used differently in space than on Earth?

Astronaut Ricky Arnold: Our water processing equipment turns urine, condensation, and collected perspiration into very pure drinking water. It is complex equipment in a harsh environment. We spend a lot of time maintaining and, when needed, repairing this equipment that is absolutely vital to our survival. We don't take any water for granted on the space station.


Q&A in Pictures



#AstroFriday: How Has Water Changed Over Time?

Fri, 2018-01-26 12:02

Today's #AstroFriday question is about observing changes in water over time from the vantage point of space.

Project WET: What changes over time, if any, will you be looking for in water features on Earth during your time on the International Space Station?

Ricky Arnold: Our water resources on Earth will continue to be affected by climate change. I hope to be able to share some of the changes we have observed since the space station began flying seventeen years ago.

Q&A in Pictures


Using Project WET to "Change the World"

Wed, 2018-01-24 11:12

Our partners at Levi Strauss & Co. were honored last fall by being named to the Fortune Change the World list. The list recognizes 50 companies who are "using the profit motive to solve a multitude of societal problems". It was LS&Co.'s first appearance on the list, and the editors specifically called out Levi's "Worker Well-being" program. As the LS&Co. Unzipped blog explained, Worker Well-being is designed to improve the lives of "the millions of people who work in the factories that make the clothes we wear, giving them the tools to thrive at work and beyond." Project WET activities are embedded in the Worker Well-being program, as well in as the company's overall sustainability plan.

After being named to the Fortune list, LS&Co. decided to go a step further to recognize the important role that employees played in bringing about the honor. They offered their employees a chance to explain how they would change the world--and gave them the opportunity to receive up to $5,000 to turn their idea into reality. This week, the five grant winners were announced and profiled. Of the five, two specifically mentioned how Project WET worked into their plans. That level of excitement among LS&Co. employees for the program is thrilling. 

Members of the Levi's Service Corps lead Project WET activities as part of the Worker Well-being program Dominique Durward of South Africa, whose work will be profiled in an upcoming blog post, will use her funds in partnership with Tomorrow Trust. Dominique will work with girls at the Ukhozi Girls Club "to build confidence, combat fear and give them the courage to dream and reach their aspirations." (Ukhozi is the Zulu word for "eagle".) She told Unzipped that she had gotten to know the group through her 2016 Project WET training. 

Oregon's Teresa Pfaff plans to use the Project WET curriculum to teach about water and hygiene in combination with installing sanitation stations for people who are homeless, so that they "have a place to go and clean up on a daily basis, helping to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A."

Congratulations to all five of the grant winners, and best of luck changing the world!

#AstroFriday: Astronaut Ricky Arnold Tackles Your “Water in Space” Questions

Fri, 2018-01-19 12:33

Ricky Arnold (Photo by NASA) This March, Astronaut Ricky Arnold will return to space, this time for a six-month stint on the International Space Station. A former science teacher, Ricky will be taking part in NASA’s Year of Education on Station initiative, sharing his love of STEM and passion for teaching.

Before beginning his final launch preparations, Ricky agreed to answer eight questions about water and space for Project WET educators. The questions were gathered from Project WET coordinators around the world and range from the practical to the highly theoretical. We’ll be featuring one question per week on our blog and social media until Ricky’s launch. Follow along using the #AstroFriday hashtag to see all the questions and answers!

As part of the Year of Education on Station, NASA has also developed STEM activities related to the station and its role in NASA’s journey to Mars. K-16 teachers can do these activities with their students by checking out NASA’s website. While on the ISS, Ricky will take part in “STEMonstrations”, educational demonstrations highlighting specific topics—including water. Project WET will be working on a lesson plan to complement some of these resources. NASA has established the hashtag #TeacherOnBoard to follow for the latest information about ways educators and students can interact with the International Space Station. 

Here's today's #AstroFriday question and answer:

Ricky on a 2009 mission (Photo by NASA) Project WET: How does being in space change the ways you look at and think about water?

Ricky Arnold: In a spacecraft, water is one of our most precious resources. It is heavy to launch, technologically challenging to purify, and far too valuable to waste. Some of the greatest engineering advances we have made on the International Space Station have been centered on recycling water. We are not at 100 percent yet, but we are getting close. Since Earth is essentially a spacecraft (a tectonically active one), the challenge is the same - as the number of crewmembers continues to grow, so does the demand for potable water.

Finally, water is a remarkable, polar molecule that makes life on Earth possible. We don't really appreciate the polarity of water so much here on Earth because of the impact of gravity on most water we observe. In space, however, we can see water assuming wild shapes and behaving in ways driven almost totally by its polarity.

Q&A in Pictures