Durham Children’s Watershed Festival

Hundreds of Durham Region fourth graders dove into the issue of water conservation this week at the Durham Children’s Watershed Festival, which found Camp Samac in Oshawa turned into a giant, outdoor ‘science centre’ comprised of 38 interactive learning stations, all focused on water. The event is one of 26 festivals delivered in Ontario purposed with creating a water steward culture.

Over 4,000 Durham Region Grade 4 students took part in the Festival this year, and since 1998 more than 80,000 Grade 4 students and 7,200 high school volunteers have participated in this unique environmental program, increasing the awareness of Grade 4 students concerning water issues and motivate them to become water stewards in their home, classroom and community.

Students moved through 38 hands-on, curriculum-connected, interactive activities with messages relevant to their daily lives. Through activity centres like pretend bathrooms complete with toilets, shower heads, and sinks, students discovered the importance of water in their lives and how their actions affect the watershed in which they live.

“Grade 4 students from Nottingham Public School have been attending this Festival annually,” said Karen Ingold, a fourth grade teacher from Nottingham Public School. “The students benefit tremendously from the exhibits and hands-on displays from which to learn about the importance of water – something generally taken for granted. In my class, I draw on the knowledge the students gathered at the Festival many times during the school year,”

The high school student volunteers gain from the festival too, said Jean-Marc Tessier from Father Leo J. Austin Secondary School. He explained, “I have been involved with Durham Children’s Watershed Festival since 2010. This Festival has long been a highlight to some students in my Grade 12 classes over the years. The opportunity provided by the Festival is unique and enriches the students with an authentic experience to educate younger students in Grade 4 from different schools throughout the Public and Catholic boards about the preservation and conservation of water,”