California Educator

December / January 2017

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wo years ago, six students from Washington Middle School in La Habra h eeded my call to ent er a national contest to identify an envi- ronmental issue and develop a plan to address it. This smart, all-female team named themselves the La Habra Water Guardians. ey came up with a project to conserve water at our school. Under my guidance, they put in long hours of STEM-related research, experimenting and writing up their results after school and on weekends. ey emerged victori- ous as first-place winners in the 2015-16 Lexus Eco Challenge, earning cash prizes for college (see sidebar, facing page). Four of the original six Water Guard- ians carried the project even further, as they moved on to high school. Angeline Dequit, Jessica Gallegos, Skye Lim and Fiona Paredes, now sophomores, went on to propose legislation that expanded on their project. ey just celebrated passage of Assembly Bill 1343, the Go Low Flow Water Conservation Part- nership Bill, in July. is came together because of their hard work and worthy cause — and because of networking and making connections. e Water Guardians' experience, which continues today as they help implement their legislation, is a powerful lesson in learn- ing, connecting and making an impact. Reducing water usage in schools AB 1343 aims to reduce water usage in schools and educate students about water conservation. It encourages collaboration between school districts and their water suppliers: Districts use the suppliers' conservation expertise to develop curriculum for their students, and water companies give rebates to districts to replace high-flow devices with low-flow fixtures. Since nearly 67 percent of California's K-12 schools have toilets using 5 gallons per flush, replacing these with low-flow versions alone will save the state over 20 million gallons of water — per day. But before the legislation came to pass, the Water Guardians had to muster support for their middle school project, called the Water Conservation Master Plan. ey met with key school and community members. ey sponsored a water-themed school dance that raised more than $600 to help implement a campus drought-resistant garden, part of their plan. ey met with the La Habra City School District board. We all began to realize that the plan had broader appli- cations. At the end of 2015, the Water Guardians started to speak to various organizations, beginning with one-on-one meetings in my classroom lab. These meetings were inspired by my experiences as a teacher member of the California Council on Science and Technolog y 's California Teachers Advisory Council (CCST 's CalTAC). T Educator and Water Guardians adviser Susan Pritchard, Jessica Gallegos, Skye Lim, Fiona Paredes, Angeline Dequit, and Assembly Member Phillip Chen. 16 Perspectives Y O U R V O I C E Students expand award- winning project into new conservation law By Susan M. Pritchard Watch Out for the Water Guardians

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