Water Challenge 2018 A Huge Success!
On April 19, 2018, in the culmination of a semester-long high school team competition, the “Water Challenge,” 500 Bay Area students attended a high-profile presentation and award ceremony at Levi’s Stadium. Students arrived by bus to visit water-centered college booths, receive the wisdom of several guest speakers, view the three winning teams’ Water Challenge project presentations, and cheer for their fellow students as the three winning teams were awarded scholarships.
Just as the local water industry braces for a “silver tsunami” of retirements in the next few years, the Water Challenge high school scholarship program cultivates the next generation of Bay Area water experts. To begin to build a replenishment stream to the California water industry workforce, around 800 local high school students participated in semester-long team projects focused on real issues faced by water districts.
Each student presentation was videotaped and projected onto the jumbotron for the entire audience to see, including one from third place winner, “Supreme Team” (Independence), another from second-place winner “Ten Eyes” (Santa Teresa), as well as a presentation from first-place winner “Group 5” (James Lick). Congrats to all three teams!
First place winners, “Group 5” from James Lick Technical High School, were in complete shock, saying over and over again, “We won, really?! Us?!”
According to winning team teacher Gabriela Huynh, “The students and I were both thrilled that their creative children’s book/rap won. The students did all the hard work.” She added, “they did the research and used their creativity to make a product answering the driving question. I provided guidance in terms of water lessons, assigned readings and questions. Students learned so much about California’s water supply and the environment. They appreciate what they have and have an understanding of what it takes to provide this state with clean water. The Water Challenge is project based learning at its best.”
1st Place ($5,000), Group 5, for Children’s Book, “Honey the Bunny and Her Quest to Save Water”
“Because she is a bunny, that’s all she could do. She is helping conserve water. How about you?”
2nd Place ($3,000), Ten Eyes, for NoOverflow, Teacher Carole Ng, Santa Teresa High School, ESUHSD, Cathy, Kien, Thi
Won for NoOverflow, “a device that will help homeowners detect, track, and locate leaky pipes and faucets.” By attaching a sensor to each faucet
3rd Place ($2000), Supreme Team!, for Tank Displacement – Teacher Ava Chiao, ESUHSD, Independence, Danelle, Jacob, Reathena, Christian
“Our solution to how we can sustain our drinkable water supply is a simple solution. Three million gallons are wasted everyday just in toilets. Our plan is to displace a whole gallon by putting a gallon container inside your toilet tank to save 1600 gallons a year.”
The nonprofit Water Career Pathways program held its first Water Challenge in 2016. Under the leadership of the West Valley College as fiscal sponsor and lead program agency, the Water Career Pathways (WCP) Consortium was created to develop and implement standardization of core competencies to allow educational partners to better prepare students to work in the water industry.
At the 2018 Water Challenge, top teams from each district presented their projects and received their scholarships. Participating districts included San Francisco Unified School District, Oakland Unified, Morgan Hill Unified, Campbell Union, and East Side Union.
Upon arrival, the students visited the exhibitor booths hosted by West Valley College, Cal Water, EBMUD, Santa Clara Water, BAYWORKS, and Water Career Pathways. After receiving information about future educational and career opportunities in the water industry, the students took to their seats in the stadium.
The day was kicked off by comments from West Valley College President Bradley Davis, who has supported WCP from the beginning and officiated the 2016 Water Challenge. “We see this as an opportunity for students all over the Valley to take advantage of the career training that will lead to very stable important jobs to serve our communities,” said Davis. “It is no secret that right now there is an aging workforce that is going to leave the water industry and we need capable well-educated students to fill those jobs,” he added.
Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of California Office of the President, Glenda Humiston told the students not to let her resume and record working in two separate presidential administrations fool them. She had grown up wanting to be a farmer just like her dad.
“Growing up on that farm, I had no idea I would be in a job like I am in today,” she said. According to Humiston, the World Economic Forum found in 2016 that the number one risk facing the planet is climate change and the third is water crises. “No matter what you end up doing,” she said, “you are going to have to be part of the solution.”
National bestselling author and White House featured speaker Arel Moodie went on to offer the students sagacious suggestions for living their best lives. For one, he said, you need to “Do the things that most people won’t, so you can have the things that most people don’t.” Contrary to society’s emphasis on smarts as the key to success, Moodie unveiled the real secret to success as EFFORT, reminding the students that simply doing the work and asking the teacher to explain what you don’t understand will outweigh raw smarts every day of the week.