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Willows Students Compete in H-2-O Challenge

Some Willows students are now almost experts on water conservation. Last year they won a statewide Cal Water competition and now they are going for round two!

Posted: Feb. 12, 2019 8:00 AM
Updated: Feb. 12, 2019 8:09 AM

Willows, Calif. – Californian’s are no strangers to the need for conserving water. One group of Willows students are now almost experts on the matter. Last year they won a statewide Cal Water competition which addresses water issues.

Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough recently spent time with a handful of 5th grade students at from Murdock Elementary School, as they prepare to go for win number two.

Teacher Mike Buckley says his students love getting outdoors and working with hands-on projects. He says their project will give them an experience they will remember for a long time. Not to mention, it focuses on STEM practices; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Despite cold temperatures, recent rains and plenty of standing mud, students with a strong sense of environmental awareness have a specific task at hand.

5th grade student Lane Niblack, who says he wants to be a farmer when he grows up, describes how he and fellow students are creating an all rainwater garden, in efforts to protect groundwater.

Each year, according to instructor Buckley, it is during the fifth grade class that students study the water cycle, which involves the study of groundwater. He says the students wanted to figure out a way to collect more rain water and use less groundwater.

And for many of the students in Willows that idea is not just a concept from class but an applicable daily lesson. Buckley says in Willows, all the water is groundwater. During drought years, he says it has not been uncommon to have wells run dry and worse.

Student Blake Lerstang says he wants to be an Architectural Engineer when he grows up. He has worked to help measure and install water catchment tanks. He says the results of diminished groundwater can lead to not only wells drying up, but also the land buckling and bending and aquifers going dry. That is something he wants to take steps to prevent.

With the help of parents and teachers, but using their own ‘sweat-equity,’ students engineered a sophisticated water catchment system. There are two areas within the 75-hundred square foot garden. One is capable of catching and holding 5-thousand gallons of water. The second is capable of storing 2-thousand gallons of water.

Student Anahi Ortega, says she is proud of her classmates and the water catchment project. She says it was teamwork which led to success last year and may be what allows her class to gain recognition again this year.

The fifth grade class has until February 28th, 2019 to complete their project and submit it for the Cal Water H-2-O Water Challenge. They are confident all of their hard work will pay off. This year’s prize would net the team handsome cash prize and a camping trip to Yosemite National Park. Winners will be announced in April, 2019.

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