Apache Junction fourth-grade students learn the importance of water

A group of students from Superstition Mountain Elementary School used teamwork to finish a race where three teams were trying to transport all of the water out of the trash can to the other side of the field, using the bucket. Every time water spilled out of the bucket, the students had to do jumping jacks as a consequence. (Photo by Melissa Fittro)

A group of students from Superstition Mountain Elementary School used teamwork to finish a race where three teams were trying to transport all of the water out of the trash can to the other side of the field, using the bucket. Every time water spilled out of the bucket, the students had to do jumping jacks as a consequence. (Photo by Melissa Fittro)

Local fourth-grade students took a field trip to the fourth annual Apache Junction Water Festival to learn about water and the role it plays on earth.
The festival, one of 17 in Arizona, took place at Prospector Park in Apache Junction on Thursday, April 23.
It is a community-involved event put on by Arizona Project WET, with specialists from the Apache Junction Water District, the city of Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department and Arizona Water Co.
The participating students were from Desert Vista elementary, 3701 E. Broadway Ave.; Four Peaks elementary, 1785 N. Idaho Road; and Superstition Mountain elementary, 550 S. Ironwood Drive.
“On average, 1.2 million gallons of water are used per day,” said Kent Struble, of the Apache Junction Water District, after being asked by a student how much water humans use. “That is just for Apache Junction.”
There were four stations set up at the festival: watersheds, groundwater, the water cycle and water conservation. The 11 groups of students rotated through each station as professionals and volunteers explained to them the importance of each subject.
“We learned to save water,” said Four Peaks student Bre Ayers. “Some kids in Africa have to carry water on their heads because they don’t have water.”
Students have been learning about water in school in preparation for the festival, said a group of Superstition Mountain Elementary students.
“We have been learning about watershed, and how water goes from the mountains to the city,” said Alazlia, a student at Superstition Mountain Elementary School.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. There are a total of 2,267 watersheds in the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.
Apache Junction Development Services engineer Sam Jarjice explained how the watersheds exhibit showed students how water affects the ground.
“This shows them how water is pumped from the ground and how gravity plays a role in getting water in the ground,” said Mr. Jarjice.
Bob Mayes, with city of Apache Junction Building Safety, demonstrated the importance of ground water during a hands-on experiment.  The students had a box full of dirt and bark with a green box in the middle. The green box represented a lake, said Mr. Mayes.
He instructed to continue adding small amounts of water at a time, until students started seeing water appear in the lake, representing how ground water from rain will raise the level of a lake.
Superstition Mountain student, Alexis, said his favorite station was the water conservation.
“It involves exercise. You do jumping jacks when you spill,” said Alexis.
The students formed three teams. Their goal was to transport a large amount of water from one end to the other, using a bucket full of water. Students who spilled water out of his or her bucket, had to do jumping jacks.
At the fourth station, students acted like water molecules while learning about the water cycle. Students tossed a dice-like cube with different locations on each side. Depending on which side landed face-up, would decide which location each student went to next in the water cycle, such as a lake, a glacier or into soil.
“They are going through the water cycle,” said Four Peaks teacher Emily Ruiz. “There are nine places water can be on earth and the cube is determining where they go next as water molecules.”
The festival took place during Water Awareness Month and the day after Earth Day. According to a press release about the event, more than 100 million schoolchildren around the world learn about the importance of clean air and water.
Andria Samuels of the Apache Junction Water District said this year’s festival was more successful than previous years.
“The numbers went up and the organization went up,” said Ms. Samuels. “If we get more schools involved we would probably do a morning and an afternoon session.”
For more information about the water festival, visit arizonawet.arizona.edu. For more information about Water Awareness Month or to learn how to volunteer at next year’s festival, visit www.waterawarenessmonth.com.

Reach staff writer Melissa Fittro at mfittro@newszap.com

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