1056 Views
  1. Anne Gold
  2. https://cires.colorado.edu/outreach/people/anne-u-gold
  3. Research Faculty
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of Colorado Boulder
  1. Patricia Montaño
  2. https://cires.colorado.edu/outreach/people/patricia-patty-montano
  3. Program Manager and Evaluator
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of Colorado Boulder
  1. Brigitta Rongstad
  2. https://cires.colorado.edu/outreach/people/brigitta-rongstad
  3. Education & Outreach Associate, We Are Water Program Developer
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of Colorado Boulder

We are Water

NSF Awards: 1907024

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Informal / multi-age

With support from rural communities and their libraries the We are Water project creates a place to meet and share stories about water, and explore and learn about water in the Four Corners Region of the Southwestern U.S. The Four Corners stretches across Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah and communities in the region experience prolonged drought and low and inconsistent rainfall. 

Because We are Water puts community perspectives at the center of educational experiences, we’ve recorded perspectives and multiple ways of knowing about water from rural, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. Through listening we build relationships, broaden our understanding, appreciate multiple perspectives, and respect the community knowledge about water in the region. In these stories people across the Four Corners share what water means to them, their families, and their communities. These stories have inspired the creation and content of informal STEM programs and a traveling exhibit. 

Through We are Water we hope youth, families, and community members will explore their shared watershed and local ecosystems, connect with neighbors through their common and unique experiences with water in the region, share their memories and stories, and come together to imagine a future for water in their communities.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (27 posts)
  • Icon for: Patricia Montaño

    Patricia Montaño

    Co-Presenter
    Program Manager
    May 10, 2021 | 05:28 p.m.

    Welcome, everyone! Thank you for coming to view our video about We are Water! 
    Our project, funded by NSF-AISL, just entered its second year of funding. We are Water creates a place to meet and share stories about water, and explore and learn about water in the Four Corners Region of the Southwestern U.S.

    We are excited to take the next week to share with you all the learning resources we have developed including the community stories we recorded and posted on our website, the virtual offerings we created during the COVID-19 pandemic to serve our audiences, the take home kits for kids and families, the upcoming traveling exhibit, and much more! 

    Please ask us any questions about :

    • What it has been like for us to adapt our project because of COVID-19. We had to make new plans as we know a lot of you did too!
    • Our experiences partnering with rural and tribal libraries from the design phase through implementation
    • Our plans and experiences serving 3 audiences: rural, Latinx, and Indigenous communities
    • Our approach to center community perspectives and multiple ways of knowing for an informal STEM project
    • All the cool stuff we are making for our core audiences
    • All the fabulous partners who collaborate to make We are Water happen. 

    And, please feel free to ask about other topics that come to mind too!

    After you view our video, visit our project website at https://wearewater.colorado.edu and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter @WeAreWaterSW.

    We look forward to talking with you soon!

    Patty and the We are Water Team 

  • Icon for: Amy Alznauer

    Amy Alznauer

    Facilitator
    Lecturer
    May 11, 2021 | 08:01 a.m.

    Good Morning Everyone! 

    I used to live in Colorado and remember keeping a jumbo plastic cup of water by my bed because the air was so dry. I remember hanging all my clothes on the line because it was faster than a machine. My hair dried in minutes in the wind. In Colorado, water becomes something you notice, or then again maybe not. One of the voices you shared noted that water may seem to be abundant as it flows from a tap and yet that doesn’t mean it is abundant or that we should feel free to waste it. I love the expansiveness of your approach – reaching out to collect individual stories, presenting the actual experience of water from diverse and wide perspectives. And then I also love the traveling engagement with different libraries and communities.

    Questions: Could you talk a little about the impact your project has had – both the collection of narratives and your engagement with libraries – on people’s perception and use of water? In particular, I’d love to hear if you have tried to measure how much these recorded stories (which are beautiful and important) are being heard and what effect they have on their listeners. If you haven't studied this yet quantitatively, I'd still love to hear your anecdotal impressions from working with libraries and communities.

    Looking through your bulleted list above, I am hoping folks ask about everyone one of those items, but I am particularly interested in your experiences partnering with rural and tribal libraries. And then I am dying to hear about all the  cool stuff you are making (I love your passion for this!).

  • Icon for: Patricia Montaño

    Patricia Montaño

    Co-Presenter
    Program Manager
    May 11, 2021 | 05:43 p.m.

    Hi Amy! 

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with water and the dry climate in Colorado. I know what you mean about needing to drink a lot of water here. Great questions about the project, too. 

    The project received funding in January 2020 and shortly thereafter we needed to rethink a lot of our plans because of lockdowns and travel restrictions due to the pandemic. Initially we had planned to go to communities to record stories and to listen to community concerns in person. Since we couldn't go in person, we used surveys and a snowball approach -we asked for referrals from our library partners in the region, and from our Indigenous partners- to schedule interviews to ask, “What does water mean to you and your community?” We've listened to communities for over a year now and have loved every bit of making relationships and learning about water in the Four Corners. The knowledge from the interviews and recorded stories has had a profound effect on influencing the direction of the whole project.

    We started sharing the recorded stories when we launched the We are Water website in December 2020. Looking at website and social media analytics, we are seeing an increase in the number of people who view the stories, share the stories with their networks, and then afterwards follow the project on social media. Our library partners have said how much they like the recorded stories, and they re-share our social media posts about the stories on their library social media platforms so their patrons can take a look too.

    For measuring the effect recorded stories have on listeners, we are currently designing those types of questions. The stories will be incorporated into the traveling exhibit experience as part of hearing about regional and local perspectives about water, and as a way to invite more community members to add their story about what water means to them - in this way we hope people will see themselves, their communities, and their culture reflected in the exhibit. When the exhibit starts its tour (hopefully at the end of the year), we will be asking community members' thoughts about the stories. I can't wait to hear what they say!! 

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Amy Alznauer
  • Icon for: Amy Alznauer

    Amy Alznauer

    Facilitator
    Lecturer
    May 12, 2021 | 09:10 a.m.

    Thank you for this wonderfully helpful response! Yes, it will be fascinating to hear from community members. I'm going to comment more below on your response to Katie.

  • Icon for: George Hein

    George Hein

    Facilitator
    Professor Emeritus
    May 11, 2021 | 10:23 a.m.

    Hi Ann and the team,

    You mention the involvement of libraries in your project that covers an area that includes 4 states.  Is there any library association that helps with the contacts over such a large area?  I notice that another project, Virtual Citizen Science Expo works with libraries, but they have a regional in-state focus.

    I can only imagine how powerful the personal stories of people's relationship to water is in your region and across so many cultures. The different stories could go a long way towards cross-cultural understanding.

     

  • Icon for: Patricia Montaño

    Patricia Montaño

    Co-Presenter
    Program Manager
    May 11, 2021 | 06:16 p.m.

    Hi George! 
    Thank you for viewing our video, and thank you for your questions. From the start the project has been a partnership with a number of libraries, and library serving organizations. Our library partners are such a pleasure to work with and have been right along side us to connect us with community members, as we've adapted the project to respond to library needs during the pandemic, in designing the exhibit, and now during implementation of the project.

    The We are Water project springs from an exciting collaboration between libraries, scientists, Indigenous science educators, learning researchers, and informal educators.

    One of the project PIs, and 2 staff are colleagues from the STAR Library Network, which is a hands-on learning network for libraries and their communities across the country. STAR Net focuses on helping library professionals build their STEM skills by providing “science-technology activities and resources” (STAR) and training to use those resources.

    We also partner with colleagues from the: 

    At the community-level our library partners are (the list will grow as the exhibit travels in the Four Corners):

    • High Plains Library District (CO)
    • Pine River Library (CO)
    • Diné College Library in Shiprock (NM)
    • Aztec Library (NM)
    • San Juan Library System (UT)

    In addition, our colleagues at STAR Net  recruited a library advisory group from the Four Corners who have experience serving Latinx and Indigenous patrons. The advisory group has been instrumental in reviewing learning resources about water and providing guidance on how to structure training for library staff. 

    We've also been so grateful for advice from the Library Research Service as we've noodled over how to approach research and evaluation in a library setting. 

    Thank you for your appreciation of our design decision to focus on personal stories and connections to water in the region. We intentionally chose to respect the diversity of voices in the region and to show our commitment to deep partnerships with rural, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. Water issues in the Southwest are complex involving connections to cultures, economics, policy, and science. We wanted to hear from communities directly and have their words steer the direction and content of the exhibit and programs.

    Thanks so much and keep the comments and questions coming!  

  • May 11, 2021 | 11:30 a.m.

    Wow, this is a great video! I love the idea behind this project and it's really interesting to hear some of the stories you've collected.

    I am interested in how you've adapted this project due to the COVID-19 pandemic, since that hit the region you work in particularly hard. How have you developed a traveling exhibit that will reach libraries when many of the libraries have been closed? How have you continued to work with the libraries during this period?

    Keep up the great work and I'll be interested to hear about the impacts of this project once the exhibit is able to reach libraries. 

  • Icon for: Patricia Montaño

    Patricia Montaño

    Co-Presenter
    Program Manager
    May 11, 2021 | 06:44 p.m.

    Thanks, Katie for your kind words about the video and project! 

    You are correct that because of the pandemic all the libraries we partner had limited patron offerings (and some were closed) for the past year. Only recently have libraries in the region been able to offer more services. The project received funding in January 2020 and shortly thereafter we needed to rethink a lot of our plans, and how to adapt the project to pandemic-times. We meet with our library partners early on, and also distributed a survey to libraries in the Four Corners, to gather information about what water issues were important to them and their communities, how libraries were responding to the pandemic, and to ask how we could help and support them during this time. We listened to libraries and they helped us come up with a list of new ideas. These new ideas led to education resources that were not part of the original plan. But, what great ideas! The project has really grown in such beneficial ways due to the wisdom of library staff. Let me list a few of these new ideas that we got from libraries and what we then developed.

    1. Take & Make Kits: packaged activities for youth and families to pick up at their library. Really great for libraries offering curbside pickup. We've made take & make kits called "Be a Water Detective," "Battle Water Pollution," "Grow a Waffle Garden at Home". These kits will offered to libraries that host the exhibit in the future. Libraries loved the take & make kits! 
    2. The We are Water Coloring and Activity Book. We mailed these to libraries in the Four Corners. What a hit with library staff and patrons! 
    3. World Water Day Regional Celebration: We organized virtual and take home activities for libraries to opt-in to providing their patrons so their communities could celebrate World Water Day.
    4. Virtual Book Club: We've hosted 2 book clubs about water in the Four Corners. Our next one is in June about the acequia irrigations systems.
    5. Online Water Trivia: Who doesn't like to test their water knowledge and see if they can be the top scorer? 
    6. Clearinghouse of Water Activities for Libraries: a collection curated by STAR Net for libraries in the Four Corners

    We also have other programs in development. The most exciting one that comes to mind is the stop-animation storytelling workshop! 

    We continue to engage and learn from our library partners. They are such wonderful partners and have been alongside us each step of the way. 

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kathryn (Katie) Boyd
  • Icon for: Ari Hock

    Ari Hock

    Graduate Student
    May 11, 2021 | 06:02 p.m.

    Such a beautiful video! The animation worked perfectly to illustrate the landscape as the We are Water community talked about their connection to the water. I especially appreciate the reminder that just because our tap water seems abundant, does not mean that water is an abundant resource.

    I too would be interested in hearing about how the project has been adapted due to COVID.

  • Icon for: Brigitta Rongstad

    Brigitta Rongstad

    Co-Presenter
    Education & Outreach Associate, We Are Water Program Developer
    May 12, 2021 | 12:50 p.m.

    Hi Ari, thank you for that wonderful feedback! Working with community members to record their stories about water has been one of the most enjoyable and important parts of this project, and it's really great to hear that the stories are resonating with others as well.

    Patty posted a great summary above of how we adapted our project to COVID—the biggest change was that we pivoted to develop virtual activities and educational resources that our library partners could use while our traveling exhibit was put on hold.

  • Icon for: Amy Alznauer

    Amy Alznauer

    Facilitator
    Lecturer
    May 12, 2021 | 09:13 a.m.

    I imagine these kits, coloring books, and planned activities are what you meant earlier when you said "all the cool stuff we are making." This is cool stuff indeed. 

    Everyone if you haven't done so yet, check out their beautiful website: https://wearewater.colorado.edu/
    where you can read more about these kits, activities, and everything they are doing!

  • Icon for: Daniel Zietlow

    Daniel Zietlow

    Informal Educator
    May 12, 2021 | 11:52 a.m.

    Awesome project!  When watching your video, I was particularly interested to hear more about your storytelling workshops.  What was your process for creating those and getting community involvement to participate in them?

    Cheers, Dan

  • Icon for: Brigitta Rongstad

    Brigitta Rongstad

    Co-Presenter
    Education & Outreach Associate, We Are Water Program Developer
    May 12, 2021 | 06:18 p.m.

    Thanks Dan! Our storytelling workshops are still in the development/piloting phase, so we haven't held them with our core audiences yet, but we will be working directly with our library partners both to recruit people for piloting and to market when the final version of the workshops are ready. 

    We plan to hold a couple different types of workshops:

    • Oral history workshop where library patrons and other core audience members can learn about best interview practices and learn how to record and share stories with their communities. We also plan to turn the lessons/guidelines from this workshop into a kit that people can do on their own time.
    • Stop-motion workshop (developed in partnership with Emily Fairfax at CSUCI) where library patrons and other core audience members can learn how to tell a story through stop-motion photography. Participants in this workshop will get a package of materials (felt, construction paper, pipe cleaners) to create the imagery for their video. 

    These workshops will emphasize the importance of story in understanding what water means to communities in the Four Corners region and will also help facilitate the sharing of stories among community members and communities. We wanted to create a space for people to share their stories about water and to provide the opportunity for people to record or tell their stories in creative and fun ways. 

    The development process includes (1) thinking about community interests and talking with partners to get a sense of what kinds of storytelling workshops community members would like to participate in, (2) identifying learning goals and outcomes, and (3) choosing what medium we wanted to work with (audio recordings, video, stop-motion, etc.). For the stop-motion workshop, we partnered with a colleague who has a lot of experience teaching students how to create stop-motion videos.

  • Icon for: Daniel Zietlow

    Daniel Zietlow

    Informal Educator
    May 13, 2021 | 10:06 a.m.

    Thanks for the detailed response!  I'm super curious to hear more about the workshops once y'all start running them.

  • Icon for: Amy Alznauer

    Amy Alznauer

    Facilitator
    Lecturer
    May 13, 2021 | 09:53 a.m.

    Brigatta, I absolutely love these two ideas! Oral history and stop motion are two things I've spent a lot of time working on. Both are easily accessible and wonderful ways to convey stories. And this really speaks to the brilliance of your project - to approach the existential and dire issue of water through human stories. It strikes me as requiring a certain patience and faith that humanity will be able to see through storytelling before it is too late.

    One question - where might we be able to view the stop motion films that come out of your workshops? Will they be housed here: https://wearewater.colorado.edu/stories/videos ?

  • Icon for: Brigitta Rongstad

    Brigitta Rongstad

    Co-Presenter
    Education & Outreach Associate, We Are Water Program Developer
    May 13, 2021 | 06:31 p.m.

    Hi Amy, we're so glad people are excited about the workshops because we are too! And yes, we do plan on posting videos/stories on our website—the stop motion videos may be placed in their own section on the website, but any videos created from community interviews will be posted at the link you shared. Audio only community interviews will be posted here.

  • Icon for: Brigitta Rongstad

    Brigitta Rongstad

    Co-Presenter
    Education & Outreach Associate, We Are Water Program Developer
    May 13, 2021 | 07:14 p.m.

    I should also note that we will only post interviews, stories, and videos that community members have given us permission to post!

  • Icon for: Candice Woods

    Candice Woods

    Manager, Development and Partnerships
    May 13, 2021 | 12:59 p.m.

    I would love to learn more about how you adapted your resources to fit three very distinct audiences (rural, Latinx, and Indigenous communities). Have you thought about adapting resources to fit the needs of urban audiences in the Four Corners region?

  • Icon for: Brigitta Rongstad

    Brigitta Rongstad

    Co-Presenter
    Education & Outreach Associate, We Are Water Program Developer
    May 13, 2021 | 06:57 p.m.

    Hi Candice, From the beginning of the project we have been working closely with our rural library and Indigenous partners. The design of our programs and exhibit materials has been driven by our partners' knowledge about their communities and the needs of their communities, and we check in with them frequently to ensure that their voices are being heard and that their feedback is being accurately incorporated into each of our programs. Building relationships with our partners and with community members has been really important part of the program and exhibit development process! 

    For this project, we chose to focus on rural, Latinx, and Indigenous communities in the Four Corners region because they are underserved with respect to science programming. We haven't specifically been adapting our resources for urban communities because the vast majority of communities in the Four Corners region are remote. I do think our programs could easily be adapted for other communities and audiences, especially after getting feedback from community members about community interests and needs!

  • Icon for: Jennifer Borland

    Jennifer Borland

    Director of Research Programs
    May 14, 2021 | 08:38 a.m.

    I love that your approach to learning about water has effectively incorporated multiple ways of knowing - and loved hearing your participants share some of their thoughts and insights about water in your video.  Did you employ any specific strategies for fostering multi-generational learning or learn anything new or interesting about best practices for fostering multi-generational learning? 

  • Icon for: Patricia Montaño

    Patricia Montaño

    Co-Presenter
    Program Manager
    May 14, 2021 | 04:31 p.m.

    Hi Jennifer, 

    Great to see you on the Video Showcase, and thank you for viewing our video. During the pandemic when our project got started, we developed many learning resources that were designed for specific age groups from youth to adults. For our upcoming exhibit and onsite programs that we are designing, we are creating a multi-generational learning experience so families, and visitors of multiple ages, can have a fun and engaging experience.

    To facilitate multigenerational learning:

    • we will have exhibit text be in multiple languages; language inclusion is an important part of multigenerational learning 
    • a specific area of the exhibit will request visitors to share their story through multiple media such as uploading an audio/video recording, written reflections, artwork, poem, photographs with captions. We have included kid height and adult height areas for contributions. 
    • Another area of the exhibit will be a community mosaic. As visitors of all ages color in pieces of the mosaic, an illustration about water in the Four Corners will reveal itself. We are hoping to leave this community created art work with libraries that host the exhibit.  
    • We will be developing an oral history kit for kids, families, and community members to use so they can record family and community water stories

    For the exhibit and programs, we are designing them for entire families, and extended families, with plenty of opportunities for family members (and community members) to interact with each other (and hopefully spark conversation), and create an environment where families and people of all ages feel comfortable. 

  • Icon for: Julie Poynsenby

    Julie Poynsenby

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2021 | 04:52 p.m.

    This is a great video and such an important project. I love that the perspectives of the community participants are front and center and that you are focused on developing multigenerational learning. I am curious to know in what ways did engagement in this project strengthen connections to place for the younger members of the communities involved?

  • Icon for: Patricia Montaño

    Patricia Montaño

    Co-Presenter
    Program Manager
    May 14, 2021 | 05:16 p.m.

    Thanks, Julie! I'm glad you like our project and our approach to STEM learning. 

    Currently the project has evaluated: the process of the project, documented our pivots to still serve communities during the pandemic, and the relationships among partners that make the project possible.

    Our next phase of evaluation and research will focus on gathering information from youth, community members, and libraries involved in the project. We are currently designing questions that will try to understand, 

    • if participants involved in the project see themselves, their community, or culture reflected in science and in the exhibit
    • if participants have an increased interest and awareness of multiple ways of knowing about water in the natural world
    • and, if participants feel a sense of connection with communities in the region 

    We can't wait to have the exhibit tour the Four Corners soon! I look forward to learning what community members think and have to say about their experiences with We are Water. 

  • Icon for: James Callahan

    James Callahan

    Informal Educator
    May 17, 2021 | 10:51 a.m.

    Patricia, Anne and the whole We Are Water Team:  Thank you for the beautiful video and the essential work you are doing.  It is a pleasure visiting your website: https://wearewater.colorado.edu/

    As our program is not only in schools, but takes part in many of the largest STEM events in the United States, it's always valuable to find activities, demos and labs that we can help promote.  I'd like to highlight to visitors of your site that you have an excellent resource page on activities and videos:

    https://wearewater.colorado.edu/engage/activities

    I am very happy to confirm that there is very productive collaboration between We are Water and other fine resource collections.  The CLEAN collection highlights much of your work, which I am very glad to see. Cleannet.org

    Question/request: Please tell us a bit more about We are Water's connecting with sister projects in other regions.  For instance, California -- where drought is a severe and long term problem. Other states and regions can learn so much from your outstanding work.

  • Icon for: Patricia Montaño

    Patricia Montaño

    Co-Presenter
    Program Manager
    May 17, 2021 | 03:17 p.m.

    Hi James, 
    Thank you for highlighting our work on Cleannet.org. 

    Projects working on and experiencing drought in other states and regions of the U.S. are more than welcome to use the learning resources we created for We are Water. In fact, in creating our resources, and exhibit text, we have been inspired by organizations working on water issues in the U.S., including our project partner Western Water Assessment. 

    For our grant from the National Science Foundation, We are Water has a specific geographic focus on the Four Corners Region. We would be thrilled to connect with and learn from sister projects working on drought and water issues in other regions.

  • Icon for: Jaymus Lee

    Jaymus Lee

    Graduate Student
    May 18, 2021 | 03:41 p.m.

    Great video and thank you for acknowledging the ancestral peoples. I think that having access to your resources and video testimonials is a great resource, something that we will use and help share within our Indige-FEWSS project. I think that having the mobile library interactive resource would be great and I have recently been thinking of ways to teach a younger audience about the importance of water conversation and protection. Thank you for the resources and hopefully we can collaborate moving forward.

  • Icon for: Brigitta Rongstad

    Brigitta Rongstad

    Co-Presenter
    Education & Outreach Associate, We Are Water Program Developer
    May 18, 2021 | 05:26 p.m.

    Hi Jaymus, Thank you for your kind words! 

    We are so happy that you've found our educational resources and stories useful. We will continue to update our website as our library of stories grows and as we develop new resources. And while we haven't finalized the dates, our traveling exhibit and associated programming, will start its tour at rural libraries in the Four Corners region early next year. 

    Indige-FEWSS is an amazing project, and I see a lot of potential for collaboration! We should connect to chat more about centering community needs and perspectives in educational experiences.

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