Everything I know about water I learned in sixth grade

How 75 presenters at this year’s Denver Metro Water Festival helped 1,300 area students discover the world of water.

May 25, 2017 | By: Kim Unger, Jessica Mahaffey
Students take the water wall display for a spin during the 2017 Denver Metro Water Festival.
Students take the water wall display for a spin during the 2017 Denver Metro Water Festival.

What do a local poet, a water quality technician, a wizard and an executive director of an agricultural foundation have in common?

They each were part of bringing water to life for 1,300 local sixth-graders at the fourth annual Denver Metro Water Festival on May 17, where students learned about everything from the water cycle, water law and weather patterns to poetry, avalanche mitigation and water pollution.

The festival drew 75 presenters from nearly 30 Colorado businesses and organizations to engage with students from 11 schools in the Denver metro area who attended the event, hosted by Denver Water, the suburban distributors of Denver Water and the One World One Water Center at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Here are a few festival highlights:

Greg Fisher tests the students' water knowledge.
Greg Fisher, sporting the water wizard hat, tests the students’ water knowledge.

Cue the wizard

One of the students’ favorite stops during the water festival is a visit to the water wizard, the all-knowing, all-seeing Minister of Moisture. This year, Greg Fisher, Denver Water manager of demand planning, was one of the volunteers who donned the purple robe and hat, firing tough water-related questions at students, including this stumper: What were the first water pipes made of? That drew some off-the-wall answers from the students.

How does your garden grow?

As a water provider, we talk a lot about what it takes to bring water from the mountains to the taps in our homes. But 89 percent of the water used in Colorado heads out to the eastern plains to irrigate the fields that grow our food. How much water does it take to grow an onion? The students found out from Bette Blinde, executive director of the Colorado Foundation of Agriculture.

Students test water quality at the water festival
Students get a hands-on learning experience as they test water conductivity, chlorine presence, pH levels and more at the Denver Metro Water Festival.

What makes it taste so good?

The quality of our drinking water is a point of pride in Denver, but what does it take to keep it that way? Thanks to some folks from our water quality department, students learned how to test water conductivity, chlorine presence, pH levels and more. While this hands-on experience gets kids seeing the science of water, Nicole Peschel, water quality senior technician, hopes they walk away with one simple lesson.

What rhymes with water?

Part of what makes the Denver Metro Water Festival unique is that the students are exposed to various ways of thinking about water. Local poet SETH, and Marnie Lansdown, project manager at Colorado Humanities, challenged students to write poetry using water-related terms. Colorado Humanities hosts River of Words  a poetry and art competition for grades K-12 exploring the theme of water and the environment.

Check out these volunteers sharing their highlights from the festival:

For a look at what the student experience was like, check out this video from the 2016 Water Festival: “From bubbles to bioscience.”

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