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To support the goals of the Division, the Committee is launching a blog on the website to highlight existing utilities and programs across the state. This blog will provide valuable information on existing programs and highlight how more information on the programs can be obtained, thus creating an online database of water education resources.


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What I Did Last Summer or My Time as a Camp Leader

Posted By Karen E. Menard, Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Education Division – Consumer Outreach Committee Blog


All Things H2O                                October 2017 Issue


What I Did Last Summer

or My Time as a Camp Leader


Coastal Bend College (CBC) ( is a community college with campuses in Beeville, Alice, Kingsville, and Pleasanton.  They have a long history of providing two-week summer camps - called Kids College - for local elementary school-age children.  Over the years, the focus of the camps has varied.  With the rising interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), this year’s theme was “Water Is Precious”.



I was an instructor at last year’s Kids College and was stoked to hear of this year’s theme; with a day job working in water, this seemed a perfect match! 


The staff consisted of two veteran elementary school teachers, Melissa Perez-Estrada and Esperanza DeLeon, and myself (I taught high school chemistry for 6 years, but elementary school kids are a whole new bundle of energy, let me tell you!).  The attendance varied day to day, but we had in the neighborhood of 35 kids.   The curriculum was supplied to us by CBC. Effort was made to provide activities that allowed for a range of learning styles. 



No study of water would be complete without the water cycle; the kids broke into groups and created dances to a song about the water cycle.


They also created their own miniature water cycles:



The campers went to the computer lab and played water-related games like:



and created PowerPoint presentations about their new knowledge.

We had guest speakers visit our camp.  Here, members of the Kingsville Fire Department address our campers regarding not only fire safety, but how fire hydrants depend on the water in the pipes.

We made slime.





And we studied pH.



Now, I’ve mainly focused so far on activities that I have pictures for, but that’s not all we did: 

·        We grew bean plants, watering them with different liquids to see which was best, documenting their findings in lab manuals.  Tip: the milk-watered beans had to be thrown out after the first week.  They were pretty gross!

·        Throughout the camp, we watched various Bill Nye and Magic School Bus videos on water and had group discussions afterward.

·        We went to the CBC science lab and observed microorganisms in untreated water.  A big shout out to Dr. Cowart for his assistance with the microscopes!

·        They practiced their reading skills by reading aloud water-themed Reader’s Theater plays.

·        We made our own sand/gravel filtration systems.

·        As we learned a new concept, the campers would capture their new knowledge in pictures which would then be used to create collages.  You can see a couple of those in the backgrounds of some of the pictures.


All camps must have snacks, preferably s’mores, right?  We merged snacks with aquifers and got: 



On the last day, we celebrated with a water slide and a hotdog lunch.  A good time was had by all!


We had a great camp this year and I hope to be associated with it next year.  If I’m so lucky, here’s my wish list:

·        We should try to take a trip to a water and/or wastewater treatment plant.  This was discussed for this year, but there were transportation issues.

·        Include some activities related to water treatment and distribution.

·        Incorporate a unit on water sources – expand the aquifer unit to include surface water, desalination, aquifer storage and recovery, etc.


You may be reading this wondering what it has to do with you.  Fair question. 

Here’s the thing: if you are a parent, you may be looking for things for your kids to do during the summer.  Contact a local university or community college and present this idea to them.  CBC has been doing it for years, but everyone has to start somewhere.  And many higher education institutions are already doing this without a lot of attention from the public. 

If you are reading this, you are likely working in the water field in some capacity.  That makes you a hot commodity if you are willing to share your knowledge.  Operators are awesome!  If you can fix a pump, even better.  Go down into a hole full of water to fix a leak?  Superman or Wonder Woman!  Go diving into a tank to inspect it?  Aquaperson!  Share these amazing experiences with the super heroes of tomorrow.  Put yourself out there; don’t let the small ones be intimidating, they are super-receptive to new experiences.


Thank you to our sponsors: it is through the generous support of the Joe Barnhart Foundation (, and Coastal Bend Community Foundation ( that CBC was able to host this camp.

I owe personal thanks to my employer, San Patricio Municipal Water District who allowed me to take two weeks of personal time off to participate in this event.

And last but not least, gratitude is owed to the people who worked behind the scenes to make this a successful camp.  Susie Gaitan was the coordinator and pulled the curriculum together.  The custodial staff at CBC Kingsville, bless their hearts, had almost a full-time job of it to keep us in order.  Thanks Betty Trevino, Diego Sanchez, and Simon Velasquez, Jr.!  And thank you Mary Gutierrez and Cynthia Alvarado-Stinson for making sure we had all the paperwork in order and things were done properly.  It was great working with all of you.

About the Author:

Teresa Arnold Mayorga is a Chemist with San Patricio Municipal Water District in Ingleside, Texas.

Tags:  Coastal Bend  STEM  Summer Camp  Teresa Mayorga  Water is Precious 

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