Scots Walk a Mile Carrying Water As Part of Water Crisis Awareness

More than one hundred grade 6 and 7 students from Saint Andrew’s Middle School walked a mile while carrying two gallons of water as part of a real-world problem-based learning project. The “Water Walk” event took place on Friday, May 18 at the track surrounding Don Jones Memorial Field, and culminated a unit of learning about the world’s water issues, especially for families in water-challenged Uganda.

The weeks-long interdisciplinary unit of study involved core subjects: math, English, social studies, and science. Building a water filtration system design was part of science class. World Cultures compared infrastructure systems in first and third world countries. In math, students calculated the number of steps they would need to take to get fresh water compared with Ugandans. And in English, students wrote persuasive letters encouraging family and friends to help solve the world’s water issues, backing ideas and opinions with facts and evidence.

Grade 6 students also participated in experiments, inquiry, and critical thinking around the real world problem Ugandans face. In one hands-on experiment, students watched raptly as a classmate held up an eye dropper full of water. Audible gasps were heard while the teacher then gestured to a five-gallon bucket filled with water commenting, ”The amount of water in this eye dropper represents the water in the world that is available for us to drink as compared with all the rest water of the world in this bucket.” Students eagerly turned to one another discussing how little available drinking water there is in the world. Then they began strategizing potential solutions.

Later in the day, students evaluated and debated hard facts about a dozen schools in Uganda in dire need of a water solution. At one school in Uganda, 40% of students were absent each day as a result of being sick due to drinking contaminated water. At another, 300 students have access to one functioning well that also serves over 1,000 other people in a surrounding village. The over-crowded well is contaminated with clay and algae, infested by insects, and used by farmers. Sympathetic students felt heart-broken upon hearing the startling statistics, but were gratified knowing that those schools were already provided a water tank through generous fundraising facilitated through the Ugandan Water Project.

“The purpose of this experience was to enable, encourage, and empower our students to be change-makers in our world,” stated Michelle Blum, Grade 6 world cultures instructor and project leader. “The students were very much inspired by the project and to help solve the water crisis in Uganda. It really brought home the important message of how we can all give back.”

At the end of the interactive and collaborative day of learning on April 27, students became aware that there are hundreds of more schools in Uganda in need of help. They were inspired to set a fundraising goal of $3,600, the exact amount it costs the Ugandan Water Project to pay for and install a rainwater water tank for a school in Uganda.

Over a three week period, Grade 6 students planned ways to raise funds to build a rainwater filtration system. Some students decided to give up a favorite Starbucks or donut treat in the morning, donating those dollars to the cause. Others decided to take action in exciting ways outside of school. Grade 6 student Sofia Worrilow connected her experience carrying water on May 18 to Ugandans her age. After a walk around the track carrying plastic jugs, she said that walking a mile was like “a simulation of what the Ugandans go through every day.” Worrilow and friend Nathalie Faresi were so inspired by the day of learning on April 27, that on Saturday, April 28, they opened a lemonade stand right in their own neighborhood. “We raised $70,” Worrilow said. And brought grade 6 students one step closer towards their goal to fully fund a water tank for Uganda.

“Our students truly enjoyed the challenge of experiential learning and the excitement of hands-on training in order to make a difference,” stated Blum. “I love how our students are not afraid to explore, analyze, take action, and help solve an existing problem at hand.”

Grade 6 students realized that raising money and awareness is an ongoing pursuit. Emily Parra used persuasive writing skills to craft a letter to Head of Middle School Ann Haynes asking for permission to host a dress down day on Thursday, May 24 in which participating students pay to wear casual clothes. Parra and her friend, Katherine Goodman, didn’t stop there. “We organized a Middle School wide bake sale, and a lot of very generous 6th graders chose to bake and donate items,” Parra noted. All items at the sale were a dollar, and from this event, students were able to raise more than $700 toward their goal of $3,600.

When asked what they gained from the experience of learning about the water crisis and walking a mile with water jugs, Parra summed it up powerfully and sincerely saying, “I feel empathy for Ugandans.” Faresi agreed. “It was hard to walk with the water.” She went on, “The jugs were heavy, and I dropped them a lot. I’d much rather be at school than walk for water!”

As Grade 6 students approach summer months filled with pool parties and popsicles, their buckets are also filled knowing that their studies have made a real difference for Ugandans.

Blum is optimistic that Saint Andrew’s can continue to continue this experiential learning and partner with the Ugandan Water Project in the future. “It is my sincere hope that Grade 6 Scots will be changing the world one water tank at a time for many years to come.”

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A non-profit, independent, co-educational school for grades Pre-K - 12, Saint Andrew's School is a private day and boarding school located in Boca Raton, educating the best students from across Palm Beach County, Florida, the United States, and throughout the world in the Episcopal tradition.
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