Teacher Amy Panschow’s Kindergarten class at Teetersville Public School is trying to solve a mystery.
The classroom sensory station that contained a sandbox was recently converted to a water station, and the new element is bringing up a lot questions – especially when one day brown sediment appeared in the water, seemingly out of nowhere.
“It’s an extremely popular station,” says Panschow. “There’s all different sized bottles, boats, funnels, and sponges for exploring and learning about water.”
About a week after the water station's introduction, however, students discovered the mysterious brown sediment, and began to come up with theories as to what it was and how it got there.
“The students were really curious about it, so I started asking them what they thought it was,” says Panschow. Theories ranged from dust particles in the air to sand leftover from the previous sensory station. “I continued to encourage their wonderings and promote their idea to bring their discoveries over to the Science Table so that others could study it along with them.”
With their teacher's help, students began recording their observations and noting patterns. They compared the ‘dirty’ water with fresh tap water. They borrowed a microscope from the Grade 8 class to study the sediment up close. They looked at images of ‘sandy’ water online to see if that’s what they had. And this began a larger conversation.
Where does water come from? How does it travel through pipes and into our taps? How do we know that the water we’re drinking is clean?
“That’s when I had a thought that we could make this experiment something bigger, and learn about access to clean water in other parts of the world,” says Panschow. “We learned that we’re lucky to have fairly clean water any time we need it just by turning on the tap, but in many parts of the world, that’s just a dream.”
A fundraising idea was born, just in time for World Water Day on March 22nd, 2017. The class set their sights on raising $150, enough to build one BioSand water filter in a disadvantaged village somewhere in the world. Through word of mouth, their message spread. They made a video about their campaign, which aired at a school assembly, and the momentum grew.
By the time World Water Day arrived, they’d raised an amazing $750, an amount that allowed them to help Samaritan's Purse International Relief build five water filters in villages that needed access to clean drinking water. What started as a simple question about water evolved into an important lesson in how much it impacts the lives of children just like them.
“I was completely dumbfounded when I finished counting the money and realized we had raised $750,” exclaims Panschow. “All that good came out of the curiosity of a few Kindergarten students wondering what was in their water.”