On September 13-14, 2021, EarthEcho International hosted a two-day event at Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, CO. The event was made possible through the generous support of Western Digital. Participating partners include Catamount Institute, Colorado Springs Stormwater Education, US Air Force Academy and Xylem Watermark. Over 250 students in the ninth grade participated in hands-on activities at different stations and connected with local partners to learn a variety of topics related to water quality and sustainability.
Station one activities focused on biodiversity, water chemistry, and steps to become a citizen scientist by participating in the Water Challenge program. Both EarthEcho and Catamount Institute staff educated students on how to test the water quality of West Monument Creek and identify macroinvertebrates. Students were able to test for the pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and temperature of the creek using the EarthEcho water quality test kits. Students discovered that the creek was fairly healthy but lacked a variety of aquatic species and vegetation to reduce runoff of sediments into the body of water. Next steps are for students to work with their teachers to analyze their water quality data and identify ways to protect West Monument Creek.
At station two, students learned how stormwater affects the health of their community. Staff from Colorado Springs Stormwater Education facilitated an interactive presentation to demonstrate the relationship between daily land-use practices and water quality. Various "pollutants" (cocoa, powdered drink mixes, soy sauce, etc.) were applied to the landscape with subsequent "rainfall" (spray bottles) creating contaminated runoff and a polluted watershed. It was a fun hands-on presentation which students enjoyed!
The last station was facilitated by staff from the US Air Force Academy. Students were able to participate in the engineering design process to identify solutions to reduce water usage. Students designed shower heads and assessed the total amount of water used per second, while identifying next steps to reduce their water footprint.
On behalf of EarthEcho International, we would like to thank Air Academy High School, participating students, teachers, and local partners for contributing to the success of the event. We encourage everyone to continue to monitor their local waterways throughout the year, participate in the EarthEcho Water Challenge, and share your data at monitorwater.org.