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Groundwater festival at Troy State

On Wednesday, 425 fourth-grade students from area schools attended the second annual 2003 Pike County Groundwater Festival at Troy State University.

Students, teachers and volunteers sported T-shirts with this year's theme &uot;I Wonder Where the Water Wanders&uot; designed by Pike Liberal Arts School fourth-grader Kelsey Starling.

&uot;The education that the fourth grade students receive will hopefully influence their decisions and actions to make them more protective of groundwater while at the same time enhancing their overall education experience,&uot; said Michael Mullen, the Groundwater Festival facilitator.

The students learned about protecting groundwater from pollutants, water conservation and the water cycle.

A hands-on activity went along with each lesson.

In one group, students polluted a clean cup of water with dirt, oil and vinegar.

Then, using cheesecloth, a coffee filter and a colander, they had to purify it.

In another group, students made &uot;edible aquifers&uot; out of 7-UP, ice cream, chocolate syrup, ice, candy sprinkles and a straw.

The ice represented the rocks underground, the 7-UP represented pure water and the ice cream represented the top layer of dirt.

The straw represented a pump and students were able to visualize that once water is pumped out of the ground, it doesn't go back.

The chocolate syrup and sprinkles represented pollutants such as gasoline and pesticides.

To help them remember the water cycle, students in one group made beaded bracelets.

Each bead color represented a process in the water cycle.

Mullen said the support for the Groundwater Festival has been overwhelming.

Although this year's festival was funded in part with a $2,500 grant from Legacy, Inc., Mullen said they would have been able to do without it.

Local sponsors include Pike County Water Authority, BFI, Lockheed Martin, Sanders Lead Company, Inc., Sikorsky, Alabama Water and Pollution Control Association, Sodex'ho Marriott, Pike County SWCD, City of Troy, City of Brundidge, Choctawhatchee Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority, Edge Regional Medical Center, State Farm Insurance, Pike County Banking Association, Pike County Chamber of Commerce, Troy State University Environmental Club, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Food World, Winn-Dixie and the Center for Environmental Research and Service at TSU.