The Southwest Climate Hub’s newest education module for 6th-12th grade teachers is here! In the Water Conservation Data Jam, students analyze local water use data for trends, make creative representations of the data, and plan an action project to address current and future water scarcity in the face of a changing climate. The Asombro Institute for Science Education, the SWCH’s K-12 education partner has shared this resource with 50 educators this summer, as teachers prepare to return to their classrooms, we hope to hear stories of student action!
A data jam is a data literacy model developed by Asombro in 2010, which has now spread across the country and been used with 3rd graders, graduate students and everyone in between. Although data jams have been adapted to many students and purposes, they share a few key components. Teachers provided students with authentic local data and support students through age-appropriate data analysis. Student are then asked to communicate their findings through a creative project. Projects have included artwork, poetry, music, interactive models, and many more. Finally, students share their projects, whether with their classmates or community.
The Water Conservation Data Jam (WCDJ) takes the model a step farther, moving from data literacy and science communication into data-driven action based on their knowledge of climate change and future water availability in the Southwest. Since development of the WCDJ began in 2019, as part of an Environmental Education Grant to Asombro from the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 1,100 students have created action plans. Students have started community awareness campaigns, installed school rain barrels, and planted drought tolerant school gardens. At one school, students passed out 1000 reusable water bottles to teach about the water use and plastic waste. One student designed a prototype “smart water bucket” for livestock that would filter and reuse water left in the dispenser after the animal finished drinking, thus reducing evaporative water loss.
The WCDJ and 23 other climate change lessons are available to educators at https://www.climatehubs.usda.gov/hubs/southwest/topic/supporting-climate-change-mitigation-through-k-12-student-education.