Nepal Water Classroom Marks a Milestone in Hydrology Studies


Water is one of nature's most precious gifts to mankind, and is essential to sustaining life on Earth. Water shortages are becoming increasingly more of a concern and countries all around the world are working together to uncover possible solutions and resolve these issues. In response to this water crisis, the Environment Camps for Conservation Awareness (ECCA) partnered with the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Nepali Government, and the UN Habitat: Water for Asian Cities Program to develop a unique and effective facility to educate students, teachers, and the general public about water and sanitation. It is the hope of all involved that educating local communities will yield wiser use of the nation's water resources. Shree Yashodhara Bauddha Secondary, a GLOBE School in Lalitpur, Nepal, has the privilege of hosting the Water Classroom, where students, educators, and others can stop by and learn about water. GLOBE is instrumental to this initiative as the program helps enhance the Water Classroom through hands-on protocols and the program's relationship with the environmental science community both locally and internationally. GLOBE Country Coordinator and GIAC representative for the Asia+Pacific region Mr. Binod Shrestha defines the Water Classroom as "a study center where we can disseminate the information about the importance of water in our lives and how to preserve it."

Students at Yashodhara Bauddha are currently conducting research projects focused on pond ecology, water music, and how water generates electricity. These activities act as a basis for their knowledge in hydrology studies and provide an understanding of how water's various attributes are connected to one another and to the Earth.

Created in August 2009, the Water Classroom is a one-stop venue where the learner is able to acquire and apply an understanding of water and sanitation, providing a unique opportunity for both practical and experimental learning. The school's educators and Nature Club members are oriented to the resources available and the proper use of the classroom in order to better educate their students or specific audiences. Students collect GLOBE data utilizing the pH protocol to test rain water and also observe cloud coverage and min/max air temperature. GLOBE Hydrology and Atmosphere protocols are taught during orientation, and the classroom provides great visuals that include models of watersheds and ground water recharge systems, a water cycle board, a hydraulic water turbine and a 3-D landscape of the natural water supply system of Lalitpur. Additionally, the walls of the classroom are covered with creative arts and informative posters of water related activities. Designers also developed a musical instrument using water bowls to demonstrate water's unique qualities and uses. A water library was established in the same venue with a collection of books and publications related to water and sanitation issues. Also included are a rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge system, and a bio-sand filter that has been set up on school premises. Each model and poster in the center details information on a specific aspect of water.

Mr. Shrestha stated, "The concept of the Water Classroom comes from many years of GLOBE implementation in Nepali schools. Water is one of the most important components in the world and nowadays many people struggle to obtain it for daily use." From the students' perspective, the Water Classroom is a great location for learning about water that provides practical information about how it relates to human life. The purpose of this facility was not only to raise awareness among students and teachers at Yashodhara Bauddha but to also raise awareness for water conservation among those in surrounding schools. For example, in the Lalitpur District of Nepal fresh water resources are scarce, so residents collect rain water using a rain water harvesting system, store it, and the excess water is drained through an underground soak pit to replenish local wells and ground water. A bio-sand filter is used to purify rain water.

The Water Classroom has earned a positive reputation throughout the Asia+Pacific region in the realm of hydrology education, gaining attention from Nepal's neighboring countries. Dr. Desh Bandhu, from the Asia+Pacific Regional Help Desk Office located in India stated, "There is limited water on this planet. We need to conserve it as there will be no life without water. GLOBE provides opportunities to students to understand the water cycle and help in developing research projects on water. Water is life." Representatives from GLOBE India recently visited the school, which proved to be a great encouragement to the teachers and students at Yashodhara Bauddha. Various other schools in the region have also taken advantage of this fascinating resource to educate their students. One visitor observed, "The Water Classroom concept is wonderful. The activities are extremely scientific, and it will be wonderful to watch it grow." Another stated, "This water classroom not only portrays the water preservation system of Nepal, it also shows methods to preserve water in countries with a water supply crisis. I believe that this classroom will be a milestone for conserving our water." Mr. Shrestha stated, "Visitors are thankful for the learning opportunity the Water Classroom provides, especially in the areas of sanitation based on human values and hygiene education."

On 5 October 2010, Yashodhara Bauddha had the honor of welcoming NASA Administrator, Charles F. Bolden Jr. and officials from the American Embassy as well as other foreign delegates. Students and teachers presented details about their Water Classroom and the Nature Club, another of the school's environmental efforts to raise awareness towards energy and natural resource conservation. Bolden's visit with the students encouraged them and gave them a new incentive to work hard in their education. Bolden commended students for their Water Classroom and Nature Club and offered some empowering words, encouraging them to work hard in their studies so they can become whatever they wish to be. Other visitors to the Water Classroom have included representatives from the US Embassy and ECCA. ECCA is a leading organization in the sector of social mobilization and community development. It implements various programs to raise the quality of life through the wise use of available local resources and application of alternate and renewable technologies. ECCA will celebrate its 25th birthday on 23 July 2012 in Kathmandu, Nepal. This special occasion will be marked with the publication of a book that will include information about GLOBE.

According to Mr. Shrestha, "The GLOBE Program has been a great platform for the school to share environmental information through use of the Water Classroom and internationally. The program has helped the students meet other students and teachers from different countries and allowed them to build new relationships."

Read more about ECCA and its relationship with GLOBE.

Read more about GLOBE activities in Nepal in previous GLOBE Stars:

Nepali Students Help Ensure Quality of Life in the Kathmandu Valley

GLOBE Reaches Great Heights in Nepal

12 July 2012

 




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