"Can you say 'impermeable'? Good!"

This past month, I helped run a couple of hands-on demos at Lawrence Hall of Science to teach kids about water management. The main activity was meant for older children and was centered on flood resilience. The kids constructed model cities with household items and we flooded their towns by generously sprinkling their work with a watering can. We pointed out that adding more vegetation, or kitchen sponges, to their cities would help sop up stormwater runoff. I mostly helped out with the second activity, which was geared towards toddlers. I showed the kids different types of materials--felt, wood, and tape--and asked them which ones they thought would make for a better rooftop and why. I'd then place one of the "roofs" on top of a plastic container and let the kids use a dropper to make it rain on top of the pretend-house. (I often had to stop them before they turned the house into a swimming pool.)

The other volunteers and I made a point of relating the activities to real-world events, such as the barrage of rain we've been experiencing in Northern California lately and the fears over the Oroville Dam. Most of the kids started off not knowing anything about water engineering. In the end, they came out of the workshop with an understanding of what it is, why it matters, and how it relates to their own everyday lives.