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Exploris explores right to clean water

Friday, students from The Exploris School in Raleigh brought together four panelists at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science to answer one big question: “Should all American citizens have the right to clean, accessible water?” 

The spur for the discussion was an assignment given to school 8th graders to design a change to improve how water resources can be protected. 

From the press release: 

In preparation for this project, the 8th grade spent the last twelve weeks exploring if we “have the right to clean and accessible water?” They have explored the water cycle, hydrosphere, and specific properties of water. They have tested the water quality of Raleigh’s urban streams, mapped their personal watersheds to the Pamlico Sound, and interviewed numerous experts. They have analyzed the Sudanese story A Long Walk to Water and Fisher Stevens’ documentary film Mission Blue, and examined the inconsistencies in the rights of our earliest Americans during our democracy’s infancy.

“The students’ final task is to participate in a global task called Design for Change. This panel is one of the many projects this group of 8th graders developed as their culminating event for their study.

“Design for Change is a 4 step process where students (1) FEEL the problem from the perspective of multiple stakeholders. (2) The students then IMAGINE the probable future if there is no change, possible (ideal futures) and their preferred future. (3) They then design an action and DO that action. (4) The final stage requires that the students SHARE their impact, through this process they reflect on the barriers that prevent change, assess their personal learning, and consider possible partners in change.

“It is through Design for Change that the students are able to pursue their own passion, find their voice, and understand the complexity of our current water issues. They have interviewed a Miami reporter covering Puerto Rico’s suffering without working sewage and drinking water treatment plants. They have pursued a recent sewage spill in Walnut Creek, and learned that compliance enforcement is difficult across local and state jurisdiction. It is even further complicated by the recent downsizing of the water division of NC’s Department of Environmental Quality. The students also met a NC legislator committed to using the state’s legislative authority to override local plastic bag bans in three coastal counties. The students have also explored stormwater mitigation, NC planning for sea level rising, and continued efforts to support Matthew flood victims. They have researched drilling for oil in NC, overfishing, impacts of specific nets to fish populations, and want to campaign for health supplements that replace fish oil.”

The panel included the following experts: 

  • Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha — Associate professor of pediatrics at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and director of the pediatric residency program at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint, Michigan.
  • Evan Kane — Manager of Wake County’s permitting, testing, and technical assistance programs for domestic wells.
  • Matthew Starr  — Upper Neuse riverkeeper since 2013.
  • Thomas McKinney — Environmental engineer with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

Watch the panel below: 


EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.