On Monday, the Schuylkill Action Network gave SLA Beeber students the 2015 Scholastic Drinking Water Award. The 9th and 10th graders have worked with the Philadelphia Water Department’s greenSTEM project in weekly courses. SLA Beeber was one of three award winning schools across the Schuylkill River Valley. Schools that have won the award in the past have demonstrated exemplary stormwater management practices, or conducted class projects or educational programs pertaining to clean water. SLA Beeber won this year’s award for participating in our Root Kit project, where they programmed Arduinos and sensors to monitor and record soil moisture data.
The high school hosted an assembly to honor these students for their hard work, which was attended by representatives from the Schuylkill Action Network, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. Several of the students spoke about their work with the Root Kits and explained what they had learned about the importance of protecting drinking water through green stormwater infrastructure and visits to the Fairmount Water Works during their mini-courses with PWD.
The students also demonstrated how their project worked to monitor soil moisture and keep plants healthy. The photo above shows one student showing off a Root Kit they kept at the school, which not only takes soil moisture readings but displays whether the soil is in a wet or dry state through an Arduino-powered LED matrix the students programmed themselves. The student explained that when the plant needs water, the screen will flash ‘DRY’ and when the soil is adequately moist the screen will read ‘WET.’
Jon Capacasa, director of the the Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Protection Division, spoke about the importance of collaboration with students and educational facilities to help protect drinking water and presented the group with a plaque commemorating their achievement.