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4-H Water Wizards: Water literacy through after-school science programs

The Issue

Water has become the new “California gold” as this limited and precious resource is a basic need for agriculture, people, and wildlife. As the demand for water increases, so does conflict between user groups and the need for understanding water conservation and keeping our waterways clean. Additionally, the US faces a significant challenge as young people are not prepared with the necessary science, engineering and technology knowledge and skills to compete in the 21st century. The future of our workforce, and our communities, depends on a science literate citizenry.

What Has ANR Done?

4-H Water Wizards is a 12-week project that teaches 4th-6th grade students about water and its importance to the planet. Delivered to children in after school settings, students participate in hands-on learning experiences that encourage inquiry, teach basic information about water, and develop awareness about this valuable resource. They explore the water cycle, watersheds and pollution; study water usage in their home; and conduct experiments exploring salinity, density, hardness and taste (Is bottled water really better?). Youth also take action on a water issue in their community. The program balances the need for critical information about water with discovery through the process of doing science. It also empowers kids to know they can make a difference in their communities.

After proven success in Sacramento County, the program is expanding into Glenn and San Joaquin Counties where it can be implemented in local after school settings.

The Payoff

Youth better understand and appreciate water

The research team measured student learning in a sample of 240 students and found significantly higher post-test scores when compared to pretest. In addition,
- Over 80% of students reported using less water as a result of participating in 4-H Water Wizards.
- 98% of students said they enjoyed the project.

Also, 78% of after-school program staff indicated that they better understood how inquiry relates to science as a result of leading the project.

Clientele Testimonial

"My students ask if we can do it again. They love it, so I love it!" --after school staff


Supporting Unit: Sacramento County

Marianne Bird
4-H Youth Development Advisor
4145 Branch Center Road
Sacramento, CA 95827
(916) 875-6423