Wild about water

Fifth-graders increase their water knowledge at annual event

Jill Schramm/MDN Aidan Elm, Isaiah Lindquist and Owen Carswell, from left, drop pennies in full glasses of water Wednesday during the H20 Olympics, where they learned about properties of water such as adhesion, cohesion and surface tension. The experience was part of Wild About Water.

More than 500 Minot fifth-graders learned about the properties and benefits of water and the importance of protecting it at the annual Wild About Water Festival held in Minot Municipal Auditorium Tuesday and Wednesday.

The N.D. State Water Commission and Ackerman-Estvold partnered to host a variety of educational activities promoting awareness and appreciation of water resources. Students from Minot schools attended one of the various sessions of the festival held over the two days.

Volunteers from throughout the region taught the students and guided them through hands-on activities that showcased the different aspects of water.

Leslie Hagemeister, a retired teacher from Fargo, has been volunteering for 16 years and reports the excitement of the children for the activities has remained steady over all those years.

“They learn all about the elements of water, the quality, what we have to do to save and preserve and take care of our water,” she said. “The kids have to know that water is so precious that you just need to take care of it, know where it comes from and know how not to pollute.”

Jill Schramm/MDN Ashley Hynson with Ackerman-Estvold helps a group of fifth-graders test soil samples for contaminants Wednesday. Learning about pH balance and the impact of soil contamination on water supplies are, from left, Zoey Blanchard, Jayci Swallers, Ava Chase and Michael Zepeda.

Hagemeister taught a session in which children learned that about 75 percent of the earth’s surface is water but less than .6 percent of that water is fresh and unfrozen and only .003 percent is used by the human population.

Those figures emphasized the importance of guarding that small, usable percentage. Students smelled and tasted water samples to try to guess the food or spice additives in an exercise designed to impress upon them the importance of clean, drinkable water.

Students rotated through stations with different activities, including one in which groups of students tested soil to determine which contaminant a previous group of students had added.

“They are learning about chemicals, about acids and bases,” said instructor Angie Bartholomay with Dakota College at Bottineau. The goal, she said, is to increase their understanding of the effects of contaminants on groundwater.