My View: Making the Water-Energy Connection

Students and educators celebrate National Environmental Education Week April 11-17

04-12-2010 // Jessica Culverhouse, National Environmental Education Week Coordinator at NEEF
Jessica Culverhouse NEEF

This week, hundreds of thousands of students will study something they see every day but maybe never thought about – the humble tap, showerhead and hose, and the water that comes from it.

Have you ever wondered how far your water travels from its source to your kitchen faucet? Or thought about the energy required to heat the water for your shower? Did you know that water is a key ingredient in the process of producing electricity from coal and other thermoelectric energy sources?

Generating power consumes 3 percent of our nation's water annually while 13 percent of the energy produced each year is used to treat, transport, and heat our water (source: River Network). Conserving water saves energy, and vice versa. Our nation's water and energy resources are increasingly important topics of discussion not just in the news, but in classrooms and homes as well. The water-energy connection is complex, but it provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the interrelatedness of ecological and environmental concerns.

This month, thousands of educators and students will investigate the water-energy connection as part of April 11-17’s National Environmental Education Week (EE Week); this year’s theme is Be Water and Energy Wise.

EE Week is a good time to reflect on how diverse the topic of environmental education can be. Teachers in all core subject areas have come up with creative activities and lessons for EE Week. Some are planning school water and energy audits in math and science classes. Geography and social studies teachers are organizing research projects about the sources of fresh water around the globe and the energy required to transport it. Others have developed projects in which students express the water and energy connection through art and poetry.

Participating is simple. There’s a brief, online registration form that will enable educators to access a wealth of resources on the water-energy connection and other environmental topics, as well as funding resources, professional development for educators, and discounts from some of our partners.

Participating in EE Week is a perfect fit for K-12 schools working toward National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA certification, as there is a direct connection between the Eight Pathways of the Eco-Schools program – energy, water, climate change, global dimensions, transportation, school grounds, consumption and waste, and green hour – and this year’s EE Week theme.

While many participants have chosen to celebrate EE Week’s national theme on the water-energy connection, others are celebrating EE Week by planting schoolyard gardens, hosting community clean-up events, constructing wildlife habitats and starting nature journals.

I hope you’ll join us in this nationwide effort to engage young people in learning about the environment.

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Learn more about Eco-Schools USA:

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