Upcoming water workshops highlight new resources for teachers and hands-on lessons for kids

Dear Ms. Haydon and Hong: Thank you for the field trip. I think it was ok that we got lost but everyone makes mistakes. I learned a lot about nature and where the water flows and all about different waters and rivers and lakes. I hope you have a great time and have fun exploring the nature. Grey Cloud will take care of the watershed. – Sincerely, a Grey Cloud Elementary student.

Working with children can inspire, frustrate, invigorate or exhaust. In a new setting or with a captivating hands-on lesson, I’ve watched quiet children bubble with enthusiasm and “problem students” beam with pride at the opportunity to show off their knowledge and skills. I’m also constantly amazed and entertained by the misconceptions otherwise smart kids have about basic processes in life, such as where our food comes from or where we get our drinking water. “We’re not really going to eat these potatoes are we?” one asks as we begin to wash freshly harvested veggies from a nature center farm. “I mean, they just came out of the ground and they’re all covered in dirt!”

To help equip teachers with new hands-on lessons, nature and water-themed curriculum, and resources to inspire students and support place-based environmental education, local partners are offering a variety of free workshops for educators this summer.

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Teachers join hands around a cottonwood tree during a St. Croix River Association workshop.

July 24: Project WET, Groundwater & Watersheds

On July 24, the Minnesota DNR and East Metro Water partners will be holding a Project WET teacher workshop at Katherine Abbott Park in Mahtomedi (8:30am-4:30pm). The training qualifies for six professional development hours (6 PDH) and is free for teachers in Washington County, as well as those in the Comfort Lake – Forest Lake and Rice Creek Watershed Districts ($45 for others). During the workshop, teachers will try out fun, hands-on lessons for teaching about groundwater, water conservation, and watersheds, with a focus on current events and issues happening in the east metro area. Participants will also get free lunch and a copy of the Project WET curriculum guide. Register at: tinyurl.com/projectWET2018.

Students learn how to identify and fix sources of runoff water pollution in an imaginary landscape in the NEMO Watershed Game, one of the resources featured in the July 24 Project Wet teacher training.

July 19 & 26, Aug. 2: St. Croix River Workshops

For teachers interested in getting out on the water, the St. Croix River Association is also hosting three one-day teacher workshops this summer at Minnesota Interstate State Park (July 19 and 26) and Wisconsin Kinnickinnic State Park (Aug. 2) (all from 8am-4pm). During these workshops, teachers will paddle canoes on the river and will participate in creative and hands-on activities, including Haiku writing, learning about wildlife, exploring macroinvertebrates, and learning about groundwater and watersheds. Go to www.stcroix360.com to learn more and register.

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Participants in the St. Croix River Association training will explore aquatic life, including insects and other invertebrates that live in the river.

July 23-25: Mississippi River Institute

The Hamline University Center for Global Environmental Education is also offering a three-day Mississippi River Institute, July 23-25 (8am-4pm daily). This field-based professional development workshop is geared to 3rd-8th grade teachers and science specialists and offers hands-on lessons and multimedia tools to help students expand literacy and STEM-focused investigation skills. Participants spend one day on the river aboard a large paddleboat and two days taking hands-on classes at Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul. The training provides 21 continuing education units (21 CEUs), a free copy of the Waters to the Sea multimedia tool, the option to purchase a Project WET curriculum guide, and the option to purchase two graduate-level credits at a discounted rate. Learn more at www.hamline.edu/cgee/riversinstitute.

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Groundwater? Eh, it’s pretty important.

Dear Ms. Hong: Thank you for teaching me all about water and how to treat the Earth. It was FUN!