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Water Rocks! Conservation Education Reaches 36,000 Students
Iowa Ag Connection - 12/03/2018

Water Rocks!, a unique, award-winning, statewide water education program based at Iowa State University, recently published its 2017-18 Annual Evaluation Report, detailing the impacts Water Rocks! visits had on students, teachers and conservation education during the 2017-18 academic year.

Water Rocks assembly.Reaching a cross section of Iowa's youth, Water Rocks! delivered classroom presentations, outdoor classroom programs and school assemblies to audiences comprised of more than 36,000 students. Feedback and evaluation metrics gathered during the year show significant increases in student comprehension as well as more adoption of conservation topics in classroom discussion, both before and after program visits.

Water Rocks! delivers lessons about watersheds, wetlands, soil, pollinators and biodiversity to students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Within each 45- to 50-minute program, Water Rocks! strives to achieve its educational goals through a combination of hands-on games, interactive activities, music, plays, discussion and energetic presenters.

"Together with Iowa's classroom teachers, Water Rocks! is helping students increase environmental literacy on timely natural resources issues, with high-energy programs that make a lasting impact," said Ann Staudt, Water Rocks! director. "In compiling the annual report, we were also delighted to note that more teachers reported introducing students to watersheds and water quality topics before our visits and indicated desire to promote follow-up discussion and activities with their students."

Key findings in the report include:

- Presented in 180 schools and 12 outdoor classrooms, reaching over 36,000 students.

- Watershed identification comprehension increased from 36 percent before, to 95 percent after the lesson.

- Some 88 percent of teachers planned to hold follow-up discussions with students covering the Water Rocks! materials and information.

The report also includes the results of new evaluations conducted with peer helpers, students selected by school principals to assist in Water Rocks! assembly productions. These students were asked a more detailed set of before and after questions. The results reinforced the general trends in comprehension noted in the large groups, but also provide new insights that may help enrich future programming.

"Through Water Rocks! lessons, it is evident that the peer helpers are learning much more than just vocabulary; they are learning about the interconnectedness of natural resources and possible solutions to the environmental challenges in the world around them," noted Staudt.

Water Rocks! is Iowa's unique, award-winning statewide youth water education program. Through a combination of STEM and the arts, especially music, Water Rocks! educates, challenges and inspires young people toward a greater appreciation of our state's water, soil and other natural resources. Partners of Water Rocks! include: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (United States Environmental Protection Agency, Section 319 of the Clean Water Act), Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and personal gifts of support. Learn more at www.waterrocks.org.

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