“Water = life” is a sophisticated equation to explain to a little kid using mainstream, linear cause and effect logic. However, by adding a little magic to the equation, Dar Si Hmad created the Water School’s STEM curriculum to make the sophisticated simple and fun.
Dar Si Hmad’s mission is to promote local culture and create sustainable initiatives through education, the integration and use of scientific ingenuity with the communities of southwest Morocco.
In addition to the Fog Harvesting project, which delivers potable water to 500 people in the region by collecting water from fog, Dar Si Hmad initiated the Water School program, an environmental educational program for approximately 100 children in the rural villages of Ait Baamrane. The Water School includes a series of seven classes on ecologically-sound water practices, developed into a curriculum of adapted hands on-activities that stimulate children’s curiosity and learning lust, based on the 4 pillars of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
First, the Water School explains to children the Science of ecology around them.
During the class on “States of Matter and the Water Cycle”, they learn about the chemistry of a drop of water. Fatiha, the head Water School teacher, explains how some mysterious tiny molecules stick together to form a single drop, that travels from the sea to the clouds before coming to earth as rain.
Then she teaches them about macro-scale biology in order to draw their attention to some amazing facts they might not notice about their ecosystem without understanding the science behind it.
They learn about “Animal Biology” and “Plant Biology”, before getting their hands muddy in the “Building a Community Garden” class, where they get the chance to observe how water concretely means life for the plants and trees they planted in their school yard.
Next, the Water School introduces Technology in order to raise the children’s awareness of the dangers of unhygienic habits.
In the “Water for Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)” class, Fatiha tells the students about the invisible scary shapes that swim in still lake water in contrast to the clean water they drink from a home well. Students learn that she is describing the “germs” they see through the lens of the astonishing technology that is microscopes and realize how technology unravels the invisible secrets of the world around them. This class draws their attention to the way germs spread when they shake hands, and how they actually swallow them when they eat without washing their hands or when they grab an apple without washing it.
Next, students are introduced to the world of Engineering.
For the “Pollution, Conservation, and Recycling” class, Mr. Mounir, the Manager of the Fog Project, shared a miniature model of the Fog Project in order to explain to students how Dar Si Hmad uses creative technology to create a solution for the water problem their villages were facing.
With the Fog Project as a source of inspiration, students were introduced to another problem their ecosystem was facing: pollution. Then they were asked to brainstorm solutions using recycling and water conservation techniques they could uses in their daily lives.
Last but not least, the Water School taught students about Math as the tool that connects the 3 other STEM pillars together.
They learned with Fatiha to count in 3 different languages while scrubbing germs off their hands. They learned multiplication with Mounir when they compared the size of the Fog Project miniature with the real life project up the mountain next to their school. And they learned addition while counting the different species living in the sea during the “Protecting Aquatic Ecosystems” class.
With this innovative curriculum, Dar Si Hmad’s Water School tackled water scarcity in Southwest Morocco through education and alternative resources, realizing that in order to change their precarious water situation, villages should first understand how “Water = Life”.
To learn more about the Water School STEM Curriculum, specifically adapted for rural, low-literate areas, check out the Streaming the Water School series on Dar Si Hmad’s YouTube Channel.
Written by Salma, a thankful EYA.