GreenTown Los Altos

Adventures with Water

04

Feb 2016

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Adventures with Water
By Malar Ganapathiappan

Wednesday, January 27, 2016, GreenTown Los Altos and Acterra presented Adventures with Water at the Los Altos Library for children in first through sixth grades. About thirty children came to explore interactive topics like water pollution, water bugs, and how much water it takes to produce food and to enjoy an art lesson of coloring and drawing water birds!

A scale lit up measurements of hidden water usage in common foods, teaching attendees the number of gallons of water used to cultivate those foods. Guesses were hazarded for the number of gallons each pound of food required.

Beef turned out to be the highest culprit at 5,000 gallons of hidden water usage; vegetables and fruits (lettuce, apples, and tomatoes) were the kindest choices at only 50 gallons. Which uses more, the chicken or the egg? Upon pondering this question, the scale revealed the answer to be chicken at 1,000 gallons, tied with a pound of cheese. Both popular choices for favorite foods. Do you prefer oranges or orange juice? Brown or white rice? While our taste buds might have a preference, the environment prefers pure fruit and brown to white rice.

Dog poop, fertilizer from lawns, factory waste—what do they have in common? The EnviroScape, contributed by Acterra, displayed through a realistic map model how these pollutants gather in the environment. While storms aren’t so fun to weather through outside, they’re fun to create, especially during the drought! Make it pour! But uh-oh, all the rainwater washes these pollutants into the creeks and bays—a good reason to pick up after dogs and stop using chemical fertilizers.

Bugs? Eww. But not these babies! These water bugs are valuable for telling us about a creek’s health. Participants had fun catching them in troughs of water supplied by members of Acterra, direct from Stevens Creek. Identifying these little invertebrates lets us know if they are pollution tolerant, resistant, or in-between. The existence of a variety of those little bugs is a sign of a creek’s good health. Thanks for being there, bugs!

Ruddy-Nosed Gutter Flooder. Waterlogged Tub Soaker. Double-Breasted Sudsucker. Have you heard of these flashy birds? Stop them—they’re water wasters! These birds waste water through faucets, hoses, and washing machines. We aren’t like them! We turn off faucets and fix leaks! Ingenious attendees even drew their own water birds, complete with impressive wings and colorful water-wasting beaks.

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