Originally from Ames, Iowa, Brandon Friederich is participating in the 2014 water resources summer internship program with Water Rocks!.
If a grade-school student was given a flyer from an environmental agency and asked to check out their website, they probably wouldn’t. They’d expect to find some scholarly articles on environmental issues, some poorly-produced YouTube documentaries, and some hyperlinks that likely lead to more scholarly articles. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with good information, but unless they happen to be truly passionate about a certain topic, the information probably wouldn’t interest them.
Water Rocks! takes a much more progressive approach to the dissemination of information related to environmental issues. When I saw how they incorporate various art forms such as original music, photography, and graphic design into their educational materials. I was immediately interested in applying for an internship. It was intrigued by the fact that Water Rocks! devotes an equal amount of attention to engaging their audience and providing them with important information, rather than just throwing various environmental literature at their audience.
For instance, there are a number of original pieces of music that were written, composed, and recorded by Water Rocks! staff members. Each piece fits into a different musical genre, and the lyrics provide information on a specific water quality topics. All of these songs can be accessed online free-of-charge, and many of them have accompanying music videos. For live presentations, Water Rocks! staff teach one of several different learning modules giant posters that have been carefully designed using bright colors, infographics, various fonts, and pictures to visually stimulate their audience. Even the outside walls of the Conservation Station trailers are completely covered in hand-painted murals.
I have to say, I was a bit skeptical of cost- effectiveness of the Water Rocks! approach to youth education. I wasn’t convinced that the amount of resources used on the artistic components of the organization paid dividends. But as soon I saw how much fun kids have singing along with the songs, or how easily it is to get kids’ eyes on me as I hold up the posters during a presentation, I realized that it’s all money and time well-spent.