As citizens living along an international border, young people in San Diego and Tijuana are well-situated to understand interdependence on natural resources. Water quality is an especially important concern – from bays and oceans to drinking-water resources and shared watersheds.
On Oct. 28, Birch Aquarium at Scripps hosted the 10th Annual World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) with San Diego Coastkeeper and Sister Schools of San Diego as part of an international outreach effort to build public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world. The event featured environmental- and ocean-themed educational activities for 200 schoolchildren from San Diego and Tijuana. This was the aquarium’s first year hosting the event.
During the welcome address, all attendees were sworn in as official members of Coastkeeper. Birch Aquarium Executive Director Nigella Hillgarth and San Diego Coastkeeper Executive Director Gale Filter addressed the need for public stewardship of water quality in the San Diego region.
“We are citizens of two countries but we share a common ocean and have a common need for resources like clean drinking water,” said Hillgarth. “Learning how to protect those resources is everyone’s job, regardless of what side of the border they live on.”
Afterward, students rotated through a number of interactive water stations. At one stop, they explored watershed models and discovered how urban waste and runoff contaminate our oceans. At the San Diego River Foundation’s station, they learned about the flora and fauna of rivers in the region.
Older students learned how increased acidity affects the oceans and about the harmful effects of human-caused eutrophication that takes place when untreated sewage and agricultural runoff enter the ocean and cause overgrowth of certain organisms. San Diego Coastkeeper’s edible aquifer station was a big hit as students created their own aquifer from ice cream, candy, and soda.
At I Love A Clean San Diego’s recycle relay, student teams engaged in a lively competition to properly recycle common household items. For example, did you know you can recycle round yogurt and dairy tubs as well as berry baskets?
Finally, students made their way to the County Office of Education’s mobile labs – Green Machine and the Splash Lab – to learn about watersheds and the importance of composting.
The learning continues after World Water Monitoring Day. The students will use test kits to collect and analyze water samples throughout the region. Their data will be shared with participating students in China, Japan, Poland, Turkey, and Russia.
San Diego schools involved in WWMD include Riverview Elementary, Perkins Elementary, San Diego High School, and Crawford High Education Complex. Tijuana schools include Instituto Bilingue Santillana Del Mar, Colegio Holy Cross, Colegio Gabilondo Soler Cri-Cri, Instituto Juan Diego, Instituto Defensores de Baja California, Colegio Eiffel, Colegio Las Villas, Instituto Metropolitano, and the Instituto Edubyte.