Cal Water news release

Murdock Elementary 5th-Graders Take Challenge 4th Place

Students master interactive educational experience developed in collaboration with the North American Association for Environmental Education

Part of a project by Murdock Elementary fifth-gradersInspired by recent rainfall, students at Murdock Elementary in Willows, Calif., have developed water diversion solutions to help address future flooding in their community. The class, along with teacher Jennipher Dace, took fourth place in the 2017 Cal Water H2O Challenge, winning a $1,000 grant for the class and Cal Water giveaways for each student.

For their project titled “What’s All the Flood About?”, students learned about the water cycle, droughts, freshwater stores, and flooding. Students then used the scientific method to make scientific claims; they modified those claims through research and experimentation to better understand real-world events. Next, Dace and her students plan to bring their water diversion ideas to local scientists to see what can be done to prevent future flooding in their community.

“There were several successes during this project, but the biggest one I felt was the students’ ability to be asked a question, make a scientific claim, research, explore and experiment, and then go back and adjust their claims with their new knowledge,” explained Dace. “They are now thinking like scientists!”

The Cal Water H2O Challenge ( is a collaboration between Cal Water and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). It is open annually to students and teachers in grades 4-6 in schools served by Cal Water.

“We are inspired by the creativity and hard work of Ms. Dace’s class,” said Ken Jenkins, Cal Water’s Director of Drought Management and Conservation. “We are well served when future generations build this foundation and engage in water issues, so together, we can help improve the quality of life in the communities we serve.”

The Challenge also furthers NAAEE’s National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education goals, per Christiane Maertens, NAAEE’s deputy director. “This competition is teaching kids how to be hands-on advocates for resources their communities value the most,” she said.

NAAEE’s partnership with Cal Water is expanding water conservation efforts throughout the state and building educational programs into school curriculum. “Most importantly, students are learning the basics of science through environmental education,” Maertens explains. “These projects give students the opportunity to integrate the learning principles of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) in solving problems that directly affect our schools and neighborhoods.”


The North American Association for Environmental Education is a membership organization dedicated to accelerating environmental literacy and civic engagement through education. NAAEE supports a network of more than 20,000 members working in environmental education in more than 30 countries through direct membership and 54 regional affiliate organizations. For more information, visit