AMES, Iowa — During the 2018-2019 academic school year, nearly 33,000 K-12 students in Iowa were singing, hopping, drawing and discovering as they learned about Iowa’s natural resources and ecosystems. The high-energy Water Rocks! lessons were presented in 197 Iowa schools and 13 outdoor classrooms during the year.
Water Rocks! is a youth conservation and water quality education program that uses a creative mix of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), music and the arts to connect students in grades K-12 with science-based information about Iowa’s natural resources and ecosystems.
Water Rocks!, a uniquely Iowan, statewide water education program based at Iowa State University, has published its 2018-2019 School Visits Evaluation Report, detailing the impacts that visits had on students, teachers and conservation education during the academic year.
Teacher comments submitted with program assessments include: “engaging to the entire class,” “reinforced the ecosystem unit,” and “retention of the information was amazing!” Teachers said they would recommend the program to their peers. In addition, assessments before and after lessons showed improved comprehension among students for almost all programs when compared to the previous year.
The report highlights efforts by the Water Rocks! teams to increase the number of school visits and outdoor classrooms, up by 18 over the previous year, and redoubled efforts to connect with schools in 11 underserved counties – garnering success in eight of the targeted counties.
“This report is a guidepost to improving how we teach these important lessons and assure we are delivering the most value in the short time we are with the students,” said Ann Staudt, Water Rocks! director. “The assessments help us identify topics that need more repetition to plant the ideas and concepts more firmly in the students’ minds. We are working with the future leaders and decision-makers for our state, and we feel our role is crucial to building awareness of conservation and water quality for future generations.”
To read the report, learn about assessment methods or to view comments from students and teachers, visit www.waterrocks.org/201819-water-rocks-evaluation-report.
— Ann Staudt, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
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