This blog was written by WCO intern Elise McDonald
What is Project WET?
Project WET is a program developed in 1984 in response to the intense water misuse and pollution that reached an all-time high in the 1970s. WET is an acronym that stands for Water Education for Teachers. Its mission is “to reach children, parents, teachers and community members of the world with water education that promotes awareness of water and empowers community action to solve complex water issues.”(Project WET Foundation site). Project WET provides workshops for educators focusing on fun and comprehensive ways to integrate water activities (many of which incorporating conservation-heavy concepts) into any subject, curriculum, or grade level. Participating in the workshop gains you certification as a Project WET educator, an entire curriculum book jam-packed with multi-faceted and highly adaptable hands-on activities, and a deep understanding of why water education and outreach are so important in our global pursuit of sustainable water use.
First off, I have wanted to become Project WET certified for a couple of years. I have a background in environmental education and am very passionate about it. Needless to say, when the opportunity presented itself to be certified through my job as a water education intern, I was immediately on board!
The structure and schedule of individual workshops vary depending on the facilitator, but my workshop was split between two consecutive Tuesdays, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM.
Day 1: After doing a warm-up exercise to introduce workshop participants to one another and establish the importance of water in our lives, we learned about the history of water use and all about Project WET and the resources it offers. The facilitators then walked us through how to use our exclusive Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guides, complete with over 60 activities organized by subject, curriculum, and grade level compatibility. We also learned about the online Project WET resources available to us, one of the most valuable of which I will describe further down. We also discussed the Urban Watershed Guide and the international art and poetry contest River of Words (link). Before leaving, the workshop participants were divided into groups and assigned one of the activities in the book to lead the following Tuesday.
Day 2: The second workshop day was reserved primarily for experiencing each activity lead by the different groups and learning to modify the outlined lessons. My group was assigned “The Incredible Journey,” a water cycle activity where students become a water molecules that spend time in up to 9 different destinations as they travel through the water cycle. As detailed in “The Incredible Journey,” there is more to the water cycle than just precipitation, evaporation, and condensation. Water spends a lot of its time in places such as bodies of water, the atmosphere, and living organisms. In this educational activity, students are dispersed among the 9 stations, each with a large cube that determines where the next water cycle destination will be for every individual.
The four activities lead by other groups were just as fun and impactful, each focusing on a different aspect of water. We received advice and feedback from the facilitators about each activity, and discussed how they could be modified for different class settings. Everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves, and the time passed very quickly!
So what did I think about it?
Well, first of all, the activities in the curriculum guide are INCREDIBLE. They really are just as adaptable as they claim to be. Regardless of the circumstances you will be teaching under, the activities will bend around them. Plus, THEY ARE SO MUCH FUN! Along with the activity guide that is only available to those who attend a WET educator workshop (to ensure the quality use of the materials), there are thousands of adaptations uploaded by Project WET educators all over the world available on the Project WET online portal. You gain access to this exclusive portal when you become certified!
If you have been considering getting certified, just do it! The price of the workshop is usually around $20-$30, which will cover the cost of your guide (and possibly food and supplies), as the instruction is free. The knowledge and resources you will gain are invaluable regardless of your subject or educational platform, and the certification is a well-recognized asset to any skill set or resume.
If you are interested in becoming certified, click here to access the map of contacts for WET facilitators in your area!