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Citizen Scientists Prepare for Disaster

The Andrews Institute of Mathematics & Science Education created a new student workshop called Watershed and Preparedness this summer, offering timely knowledge in the wake of catastrophic flooding and destruction in Texas from Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent tropical storm and tropical depression. (The Houston Office of Emergency Management has reported the water in Houston is safe to drink and use and continues to monitor the situation.)

The free week-long workshop is part of the Andrews Institute Citizen Scientist series, teaching 6-9th graders from the Fort Worth area how to protect water and the environment during a natural disaster. Students built on knowledge from three pre-requisite workshops: Watch Your Watershed, Watershed Rescue and Diving Deeper.

Watershed and Preparedness taught students what to expect after a disaster and how to help their communities. Students also learned different methods for making water safe, such as distillation, and created and presented community action plans in groups.

Jenesta Nettles earned her Ph.D. in Science Education from TCU’s College of Education in 2015 and now works as a Research Associate for the Andrews Institute and instructor for the workshop series with Kelly Feille ’14 and doctoral student Morgan Stewart. Nettles’ research focuses on attitudes toward science based on student surveys and work. She said the camps are designed to empower students to make a difference in their communities by learning to solve problems and share their knowledge. She and others who teach the workshops guide students to learn by scientific investigation rather than rigid instruction.

“Any citizen has the opportunity to scientifically investigate their surroundings,” she said. “We want to empower students as learners.”

The Andrews Institute offers free workshops to students throughout the year. The Citizen Scientist series will be offered again next summer. Visit their website for more information.

For information on emergency water supply preparation, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.