12th Symposium on Education


SAHRA Hydrologic Literacy Education Programs

James C. Washburne, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and G. Woodard and S. Sorooshian

SAHRA is an NSF-sponsored Science and Technology Center focused on improving our understanding of water resources in semi-arid regions, particularly the U.S. southwest. Based at the University of Arizona, SAHRA is a collaborative effort between 10 universities, 5 federal agencies or labs and many U.S. and Mexican water stakeholders. SAHRA's primary research areas are in the Rio Grande and San Pedro watersheds although our science and education efforts are more generally applicable to semi-arid regions around the world. Our education mission is to improve the hydrologic literacy of a broad range of water stakeholdersincluding K-12 students, teachers, undergraduates, graduates, natural resource professionals, policy makers and the public. This presentation focuses primarily on outreach to teachers, students and the public.

The reason for such a broad target audience is two-fold. First, everyone is a water user and resolving future water conflicts requires that a large segment of the population have a sufficient understanding of the fundamentals of water supply and water quality to address these issues. Secondly, from an educational and career perspective, we have found that hydrology is relatively invisible in most curriculum until students reach college or graduate studies. Enhanced educational opportunities at all levels will stimulate greater appreciation of the role water resources plays in or lives and build career pathways, particularly for under-represented groups, such as Native Americans.

SAHRA's web site (www.sahra.arizona.edu) serves as a gateway into our most successful educational programs. The site hosts a Water News Watch, where arid and semi-arid water news from around the world is available through a web database interface that makes locating specific information easy. This site is of interest to teachers trying to illustrate the relevancy of water and the general public, who might want information about a new water quality issue. The public is further served by pages devoted to residential water conservation, a water quotation database and the Sabino Canyon visitor center kiosk and web site. There is an Isotopes and Hydrology section, where a variety of information is available about both standard and innovative methods in applying isotopes to hydrologic questions.

Most of our educational outreach is focused on high school and undergraduate students. The SPLASH program (Student-centric Program for Learning About Semi-arid Hydrology) is developing a complete water science curriculum for a range of high school students, based on national science standards and high levels of student engagement. A teacher workshop called Hydrologic Literacy in the Secondary Classroom provides both content and pedagogy to teacher's interested in effectively using hydrology in their classroom. Curriculum material is also available from our web site for a southwestern water issues course that is taught to non-science undergraduates. The class is currently called Arizona Water Issues (HWR203).

Session 3, Special Session on Water and the Water Cycle: Part I
Monday, 10 February 2003, 1:30 PM-2:30 PM

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