Bringing science and environmental understanding to people is imperative for any solution to the water and sanitation problem to work. At the heart of all solutions is the mind set change the solution fosters – and mind sets can only change through knowledge sharing, story-telling and experiential learning. At Biome Environmental Trust, this is an integral part of all our work. At the heart of all solutions that work is the process of mind-set change or “education”. We have also worked with schools & colleges, training institutes, builders, architecture and engineering firms (etc) in which we have devised engaging ways of understanding water & sanitation issues thus contributing to larger social consciousness as well as conscientiousness about water and waste-water.
A 7 day workshop on Bangalore Water organized by BIOME and CMCA for 13-14 years olds from various schools earlier this year. The workshop included trips to BWSSB STPs, Large Wells, Lakes, Urban Slums, Layouts and interaction with various people vis-a-vis water. The children also performed hands on experiments on ground water and water testing. A blog maintained by the kids detailing their activities is available at http://sciencefestival2012.blogspot.in/. This workshop was part of a larger programme for a French American Science Festival where various schools are exploring issues/solutions around water and sanitation. This is movie that documents the workshop and will be screened at the festival.
We are currently teaching rainwater harvesting at Nammashale school, Bangalore. Ms Rama and Mr Ramjee approached us to develop a curriculum and teach children the basics of conserving water. The students are aged between 12-14 (classes 7th and 8th). Nammashale follows a slightly different teaching system as compared to the mainstream schools. It can broadly be summed up as “cosmic education”. In this, one avoids the regular demarcations of subjects and instead students are encouraged to try and find connections or look at the “bigger picture”. So for instance when we talk about water quality and introduce the idea of water being acidic or basic, the school ensures that in the coming days, the chemistry teacher will also elaborate further on this concept. Thereby it is easy to see how a concept learned in one area is being applied in another sphere.
Three students from the USA have gotten together to help implement rainwater harvesting in 5 schools of rural Karnataka, India. David Pierce, Lam Hoang and Nitin Sajankila from Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut, USA) are recepients of the “Davis Projects for Peace” (www.davisprojectsforpeace.org) and decided to use the grant money to help construct rainwater harvesting systems in Pavagada, Karnataka.