Education is a cornerstone of Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful’s (KCCB) mission. One of the major battles we face regarding the protection of the Coyote Creek watershed is a lack of public understanding or interest. To bolster compassion for the watersheds of the South Bay, a handful of local organizations (Valley Water, Open Space Authority, CommUniverCity, and Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful) created the Watershed In A Box Program (WIAB). This free educational program offers fun activities covering important topics related to watersheds, such as urban runoff, water quality, water recycling, climate change, trash decomposition, flood preparation and anadromous fish like steelhead trout. Although these programs were originally geared towards K-12 classrooms, KCCB also created shorter versions for the public to enjoy.
The public versions of WIAB were offered as part of outreach events, career day presentations, and our Kelley Park Sunset Walks. Across the board people of all ages were engaged in the activities. It was incredible to see the participants having fun while learning. CommUniverCity had been on the frontlines with the K-12 classroom presentations, often in the form of after-school programs. In addition to having a whole slew of new Kelley Park Sunset Walks in the works, KCCB has made preparations to offer classroom activities as well. The program was running smoothly with much promise on the horizon.
Unfortunately in response to the regional emergence of COVID-19 in March 2020, we canceled our programs. As disheartening as it was, rather than letting it get us down we pivoted and adapted. In this trough of activity we built upon what we had and brainstormed alternatives. Since then we have created new versions of the WIAB activities for the virtual classroom.
An example of this is the activity "Be Prepared". During this activity students must select items they would like to have with them during an emergency such as a flood or earthquake. In the original version students would have tiles of 24 pre-determined items of which they could choose 8. Once selected, they would attach the tile to a laminated sheet via self-fasteners. In the digital version, students in virtual live-teaching environments take a screenshot of the list of items, are put into break-out rooms of 3-4 students, and discuss which items they would take in an emergency. Despite lacking the hands-on elements, students are typically engaged in the discussion. Perhaps more importantly they were excited to have something new and different to interact with. Additionally, in the programs offered so far, the classroom teachers have expressed nothing but gratitude.
During these stifling times, it is more important than ever to offer captivating learning opportunities to both students and adults alike. Looking forward, we have plans to collaborate with CommUniverCity and adapt more WIAB activities into the virtual landscape. We hope to continue this program despite any hurdles placed in our way. Just as a drop of water is in constant motion towards its next destination so too is Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful.