Every year the quiet and sleepy St. Jones Reserve, and our neighbor the John Dickinson Plantation, get a shot of life and excitement when fourth grade students from across Delaware descend on our properties. No it’s not an attack; it’s our annual Make a Splash Water Festival. The festival, now in its sixteenth year, provides a fun and educational day for students to explore the importance of water resources in our past, present, and future. This year’s festival held on March 31st brought together almost 650 students from all three counties and close to 100 water resource and historical professionals!
The festival is set up so that students spend half of their day at the St. Jones Reserve and the other half at the John Dickinson Plantation. At the Reserve students are introduced to the “how” and “what” of water through activities like the “Incredible Journey”, an interactive game about the water cycle. Each student is given a colored bead that represents where they are in the water cycle, if they were a droplet of water. Then using number cubes the students play a game where they are sent through the cycle, and along the way collect different colored beads to represent where they have been. In the end each student has a colorful bracelet that acts as a visual representation of a water droplet’s journey through the water cycle. This is just one of thirteen options the students had to learn about water at the St. Jones Reserve. Once the students thoroughly explore the “how” and “what” of water they travel to the John Dickinson Plantation to learn the “why”.
To understand the “why” the John Dickinson Plantation is used as a case study to show how the plantation relied on water and the St. Jones River in the 1700’s. Some presentations include how traditional colonial beverages were made and the types of food that were harvested from the St. Jones River. In addition to learning about water use in colonial food making, they also learn about the role it played in the settling and growth of the colonies. At one station students participate in the “Starting a Colony” game, presented by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, where they explore the decision making that went into planning a trip from Europe to Delaware in the 1600’s. From what supplies to bring, to where to start a new colony in Delaware students learn how factors like water shaped these decisions. (To learn more about the “Starting a Colony” lesson plan visit the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s webpage.) Once students have visited both sides of the festival they head out for the day leaving space for the next round of students to arrive and learn about Delaware’s water resources.
By the end of the trip the students have a better understanding of why water is such an important resource here in Delaware. This understanding will lead to next generation of water resources stewards.
And a special thank you is in order for all the hard work and donations that are given every year to ensure this great event can continue!
Sponsors: Tidewater Utilities; Terra Systems, Inc.; Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Watershed Stewardship; Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, John Dickinson Plantation; The Friends of the John Dickinson Plantation; The Delaware Association of Conservation Districts; The Project WET Foundation; The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Make a Splash Planning Committee: The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve; Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, John Dickinson Plantation; The Delaware Association of Conservation Districts; DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship, DNREC Division of Water; DNERC Division of Parks and Recreation; and Tidewater Utilities.
Volunteers and Presenters: Delaware Department of Agriculture; Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve; Delaware Nature Society; Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary; Kent Conservation District; New Castle Conservation District; Sussex Conservation District; Tidewater Utilities; Envirotech Inc.; the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation; and Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Office of Drinking Water
To learn more about the event or to support it in the future please contact our Education Coordinator Maggie Pletta at Margaret.Pletta@state.de.us.
To view more photos from the day visit our Facebook (DNERR) and view our Make a Splash 2015 album!