WATER FEST: Local students learn at annual Pike County Ground Water Festival

Published 3:00 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

For 15 years, Troy University has hosted the Pike County Ground Water Festival in an effort to promote environmental awareness and water education.

On Wednesday, 490 fourth-grade students from seven schools in Pike County and a group of home-schooled students participated in the Pike County Groundwater Festival.

Janet Gaston, senior lecturer in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and event coordinator, said the one-day festival allows the students and teachers to participate in three lab activities – “Edible Aquifer,” “Water Bracelet” and “Drop in the Bucket.”

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“The Ground Water Festival is an opportunity for students to get hands-on experiences with activities promoting environmental awareness and water education,” Gaston said. “By participating in these activities, students become more aware of our environment and the importance of protecting it and also the limited availability of fresh water on our planet.”

The objective of the “Edible Aquifer” activity is to help students better understand how pollution can get into groundwater and how pumping can cause a decline in the water table and increase the sinking of land.

Each student constructed his or her own aquifer using ice for rocks, a soft drink for water, ice cream for soil, red sprinkles for nutrients, green sprinkles for pesticides and chocolate syrup for the soil. Once the students completed their aquifers, they “pumped” them through a straw, devouring sprinkles and all.

The “Water Bracelet” activity was designed to demonstrate the path water takes through various stages. Colored beads were “stung” to highlight the various stages. The yellow beads represented the sun; the clear beads, evaporation; the white beads, condensation; the blue beads, precipitation; the black beads, runoff; and the green beads, plants.

The “Drop in the Bucket” activity impressed upon the students that available fresh water is only one drop in a bucket. Even though 70 percent of the earth surface is water, only 2.5 percent is fresh water and just 1 percent of the earth’s fresh water is easily accessible, and much of it is trapped in glaciers and snowfields.

“Because our fresh water is only a ‘drop in the bucket,’ it is important that we do not waste that water,” Gaston said. “Letting the water run while brushing your teeth is being wasteful. Taking only a three-minute shower is being conservative.  Hopefully, the students who participate in the annual Groundwater Festival each year will better stewards of our natural resources.”

Participating schools were Banks, Covenant Christian, Goshen, New Life Christian, Pike County, Pike Liberal Arts and Troy Elementary. Home schooled students also participated.

The Pike County Groundwater Festival was made possible by funding and in-kind services by the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, CDG Engineering, the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, the Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, the City of Brundidge, the City of Troy, Pike County Soil and Water Conservation, the Pike County Cooperative Extension Office, Alabama P.A.L.S. and Troy University.