There is literally nothing more important to life, all forms of life, than water. World Water Day is an occasion for communities everywhere to take stock in their water supply. What better way to learn about the water that surrounds us in South Florida than to get out into it, armed with tools to conduct scientific observations?
“Is this a little more exciting than hanging out in a classroom?” asks Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the famed marine explorer and conservationist. “Yesss!” comes the reply from a group of fifth graders standing knee deep in the ocean.
130 kids from Miami’s Citrus Grove Elementary School and from American Heritage School in Plantation are part of the EarthEcho Water Challenge. Cousteau is the founder of EarthEcho International, a world-wide environmental advocacy organization.
“We need to be vigilant as citizens in a community to take action and protect our water,” Cousteau said.
That means the entire watershed. Using kits provided by EarthEcho, the kids are testing the clear, calm waters at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne for purity, and they’re also examining the health of the ecosystem. Nothing excites this age group more than scraping a net along the sea grass and seeing what critters come up.
“What people tend to forget is the influence and power young people have,” Cousteau said. “When we talk about educating kids, we’re really talking about educating the community, that’s the best way, not only to help the present, but also to influence, positively, the future.”
Experiences like this make an indelible imprint on young minds.
“And it just provides a little bit of motivation to step out of their boundaries and just excel,” said Nicholas Delgado, a teacher at Citrus Grove.
EarthEcho is sponsoring activities like this all over the world, encouraging people to test the water quality in their taps, in their streams, in their reservoirs, and then to share the data. That data base can be useful in responding to the challenges this planet faces.
“There’s also global issues like climate change where we’re going to see increasing amounts of drought, sea level rise, which is a concern here in Miami and a lot of concerns about salt water getting into the fresh water aquifer,” Cousteau said.
With problems on the horizon, we’re going to need an army of eco warriors to fight back. Basic training started for a group of youthful soldiers today in Key Biscayne.