Schools and community education plays a key part in the water industry’s water conservation efforts. Educating children about the importance of water and the consequences of their water use is an important step to creating water-wise communities. Water Aware, ‘We are aware of water in our community’, is an education program designed to give students an overview of ‘the whole water picture’. Where water comes from and where it goes once it has been used.
Focussing on school leaders, year 5 to year 8, selected students across a region attend a two day workshop to learn about water in their region and then two follow up sessions to prepare their presentations. The program culminates in a gala presentation evening in which the students present what they have learned through-out the program to their parents, teachers and peers.
Students from primary and secondary schools are nominated to attend the program; they gain an understanding of the whole water picture in their community; water collection, water quality, water treatment water use (in rural, commercial and urban environments), wastewater treatment and re-use, river and estuary health and reservoir management, just to name a few of the topics.
The project was delivered through a partnership with education department schools and the water industry to bring together the skill, experience and expertise of these two bodies.
The Water Aware education program was offered as a free program for schools to participate and one that is VELS compliant and requires minimal effort for the schools to undertake, yet raises their profile in the media and local community.
The project offers a lasting impression on the students who participate and the community it reaches. The parents and teachers who attend the presentation nights are often struck by the impact of being taught something new by their children or students.
Following the conclusion of funding from the Smart Water Fund the Water Aware Program will be reviewed. Whilst the Corporation sees great value in the program and the students it reaches, the program in its existing format has now been running in the Korumburra region for 6+ years. As a result for some students, parents and teachers alike it is a case of ‘seen it all before’ from previous years or older siblings who have participated in the program.
As a result the program structure is likely to stay the same with workshop and gala presentation night, however the content may be refreshed with a view to having a greater focus on science or practical activities and experiments.
In closing the success of the program is due to the program being designed and delivered using Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS), it promotes leadership, planning, information technology, working in teams, community engagement and public presentation skills for the students. In addition the program strengthens partnerships with local business and government agencies.