Second Grade Expedition // Access to Water

DAA second graders Skyping with two Ivory Coast residents about their access to water.

DAA second graders Skyping with two Ivory Coast residents about their access to water.

“Detroit Achievement Academy exists to holistically support the education and development of students who have the determination, drive, and skills to shape their own path of high achievement with the ultimate goal of creating civically engaged, joyful citizens who are ready to change the world.

Even in our mission statement, one of our desires is to get our kids out there, to think outside of themselves, even outside of our school, into our community, and into our world. The 2nd and 3rd graders are in the midst of our second expedition, all about water. In the first case study, the students focused on answering the question, “Where is water on earth?”. We did an in-depth study on the water cycle, where students created short stories from the point of view of a water droplet traveling through the phases of the water cycle, and read them to our kindergarteners to teach our youngest DAA scientists about the water cycle. Once the base understanding was set, we dove into some deeper questions.

We grappled with the heavy topic, “Does everyone have access to clean water?”. We talked about how though our journey to get water looks like turning on the faucet or grabbing a water bottle, not everyone’s journey is as easy. And not only is it not as easy, the water that they do have access to isn’t always clean! There are 663 million people in our world who are living without easy access to clean water. But we didn’t want to just read about it, we wanted our students to interact with it, to understand the depth of the water crisis.

Four summers ago, I had the opportunity to live in the Ivory Coast in Africa to teach a summer school to local students whose school year had been cut short. In the backyard of the home that I stayed in, was the village’s central well. Everyday there was a constant stream of children and women that came with their buckets, jugs,  and large bowls to collect water from the well and bring it back to their homes for their daily use. When we began to plan this water expedition, I knew immediately that we had to somehow connect this world and our DAA community.

A few weeks ago, our second and third graders had the opportunity (thank you Skype) to interview two locals from the Ivory Coast to hear about their journey to get water, and how that journey affects their day to day life. The locals spoke in French and a local language, and the woman I stayed with while living there, Linnea, translated for our students. After the interviews, Linnea carried her laptop into her backyard where our students were able to see a group of 5 children, about their age, collecting water from the well. Once again, our students were able to ask them questions about their daily lives, able to compare and contrast their day to day lives with these children on the other side of the world. It was so powerful, and I hope it’s an experience our students never forget, that they don’t take for granted the fact that we can turn on the faucet, or grab a water bottle from the fridge. And who knows, maybe the next pioneer to solve the water crisis is one of these second and third graders sitting in the classroom.