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Ground water fest a success

Blake Baker, right, and Camren Thorman made a pact to “Take care of ground water. It’s what we drink.” The fourth-grade students from Banks School used their water bracelets to remind them of the water cycle and that water that is polluted will return to the earth, possibly, as acid rain.

More than 450 fourth-grade students from Pike County schools attended the 9th Annual Ground Water Festival at Troy University on Wednesday.

Janet Gaston, event coordinator, said the purpose of the Ground Water Festival is to teach young students about water conservation and provide them with ideas on how to conserve water, “things to do and not to do.”

“We want to offer hands-on activities that are fun and that relate to the concepts we are trying to convey to the students,” Gaston said. “We want to make it fun to learn about conservation and about the environment and how to work with it and protect it.”

At the Ground Water Festival, the students participated in three activities related to the world’s life-giving source – water.

“The students got to make edible aquifers that mimic real life aquifers,” Gaston said. “They were able to see how things like oil can get into our drinking water supply and pollute it.”

Using ice cream as the ground, the students watched as the oil (chocolate syrup) seeped through the ground and into the ground water.

The word of thumb the students learned was “If you don’t want to eat it or drink it, don’t put it on the ground.”

Dr. Christi Magrath, Troy University associate professor of biology, said most of the students came to the Ground Water Festival knowing very little about ground water.

“They have learned that aquifers are under our feet very second and how important it is that we protect our ground water by keeping it clean,” she said.

The students made water bracelets that will remind them of the water cycle and how water that is polluted comes back down to earth as acid rain.

Gaston said the “drop in the bucket” activity makes students aware of the importance of water by showing them that drinking water is only a drop in the bucket when compared to the earth’s water supply that is about 70 percent salt water.

The Ground Water Festival’s theme for 2011 is “Spring for Better Water.”

Fourth-grade students were invited to create a T-shirt design using the theme. Winners were chosen from each of the different schools and the overall winner’s design was used as the design for the 2011 Ground Water Festival T-shirts.

Genelynn Lee of Banks School was the overall winner.

“My design is of a frog ‘springing’ out of water that has been polluted by oil into a pitcher of clean, drinking water,” Genelynn said but added, with a smile, that she’s not a fan of frogs.

At the end of the edible aquifer session, the students from Goshen Elementary School shouted in unison words that made the organizers and sponsors of the Ground Water Festival smile, “Take care of the ground water. It’s what we drink!”

Sponsors of the 2011 Ground Water Festival were Legacy, Wal-Mart DC 7019, Pike County Water Authority, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, City of Troy, City of Brundidge, Pike County Extension Office, Charles Henderson High School Environmental Club and the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority.

Ground Water Festival committee members are Gaston, Bandy Hand, Tammy Powell, Bobby Little, Britt Thomas and Mike Mullen.