James Lick High School Chemistry Water Challenge

During the 2016-2017 school year, James Lick High School from East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD) took the water challenge into their own hands. In the larger intra-district water challenge, Water Career Pathways (WCP) sponsored approximately four hundred students from four different high schools, including James Lick, from two different school districts in a scholarship competition. The competition engaged students in 4-8 week projects addressing water issues the industry faces today.

After their classes had already participated in the larger intra-district water challenge through WCP, James Lick was thirsty for more! They decided to further hone their skills by holding a chemistry water challenge between classes. The WCP curriculum uses student-led Project-based Learning (PBL) whereby classes break into smaller groups to devise a solution to a real-world problem. James Lick riffed on WCP’s model and had classes work together as teams. Each class worked as a group to design, build, test and report.

At the end of their project, classes were pitted against one another in a competition for bragging rights. Judges were selected from District administrators, WCP Staff, and industry. The students gave their presentations and were judged on a rubric scale ensuring each project met the standards. Winning teams were selected, and the braggadocio began. It is dedicated educators like Sheila Lacanaria and Gabriela Huynh who understand the power of Project Based Learning in the classroom and, eventually, in the launch of their students into meaningful careers. These are just two of the fantastic educators are working with the WCP to bring water and wastewater industries career pathways to high school students as a true career destination.