When grade six teachers Jayne Liu, Grammar, and Susan Oltman, Science, collaborated to create a deeper learning experience for their students, they didn’t know they would end up in the State Capitol, with our very own sixth grader Mary Ellen Reagin.

All 90+ sixth graders went on a science-based expedition to the Johns Creek Environmental Campus (JCEC), a unique facility combining state-of-the-art wastewater treatment technology with an educational component. They learned strategies for water supply and conservation, watershed and wastewater management, and how one of our world’s natural resources must be cleaned, recycled, and managed properly.

To elaborate on their learning, Mrs. Liu presented them with an opportunity to write a stormwater pollution essay, to be entered into a contest held by the North Georgia Water Planning District. Students in grades 6 – 8 around the state of Georgia were asked to write a 300-500 word essay with the following prompts:

  • What is stormwater pollution?
  • What impact does it have on the health of our rivers, lakes, and streams?
  • What can we do about it?

Each MV student researched and wrote his/her own essay to submit to the contest. One class also Skyped with an external expert — a Georgia Tech graduate student.

The Middle School Essay Contest challenges students to think critically about our region’s water resources and raises awareness for conservation and preservation of water quality and quantity in metro Atlanta.

2018 marks the 17th year of the Metro Water District’s Middle School Essay Contest. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders in Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale counties are invited to participate in the contest.

One winner from each of the 15 counties in the District, as well as a City of Atlanta, was chosen. Each winner will receive $100. The District-Wide Winner and Runner-Up were each awarded an additional $400 during the 2018 Middle School Essay Contest Reception held at the State Capitol on December 12.

We are proud announce that our own Mary Ellen Reagin won for the City of Atlanta!

Stormwater Pollution
Mary Ellen Reagin, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School

Many people claim that when they litter it does not affect the water. But the truth is, it does. Water is something we need daily. If you weren’t allowed to use water as much as you normally do, what would you do? We need water. Stormwater pollution can ruin that if it gets really bad. Stormwater is the water that comes down when it rains. It comes down rooftops, down streets, and eventually into the drain where it goes off to the rivers, this is called runoff. On the way to the river stormwater collects tons of dirt and trash and chemicals and oils. “When it rains it drains” is a quote by the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District that means any pollution left outside in the rain will be brought to the river.

We are very bad at keeping our streams clean and this is because of us not taking care of the environment. We need to be working harder to keep the land clean from pollution like, animal waste, cleaning products, litter, etc. because when rain falls it affects the water. Point source pollution is pollution that is always happening like pollution that comes from a factory where there is always pollution coming out of the factory. Nonpoint Source pollution is pollution that comes from water runoff after it hits the ground it picks up natural human made pollution. Most streams in the U.S. don’t meet standard requirements for streams because of stormwater pollution. Stormwater pollution can make the water unsafe and make swimming and fishing unsafe and can hurt and/or kill animals living in the wild.

We are so bad at keeping our streams clean that we are even being told by the government. This might be a clue we need to get our streams in better shape.

There are more than one effects pollution has on the world, streams, and people another one is pollution makes it harder for Steam Cleaning Plants to clean our water for us to drink and use daily. Stormwater pollution gets into the stream so the water we drink comes from plants that take in stream water. Stormwater pollution then makes drinking water more difficult and more costly to clean. We need to help clean our water because most of us don’t know how to live without drinking water. Water is used to drink, clean you, clean dishes, clothes, and water is used to have fun. Think about it: we can help the environment just by not littering, it’s that easy. So why don’t we clean up after ourselves.

There are tons of ways we can help save our water. If every single person threw away one piece of litter a day our world would already be much cleaner. One way we can make the environment cleaner is by keeping your pool clean to prevent draining often. Or throw dog waste and animal waste in the trash not the lawn. Another way is to not spill oil when you are filling up your car. You may also try to use a car wash service that reuses water rather than disposing water. If you ever cook you can dispose oil and grease in the trash instead of pouring them down the drain. Lastly you might want to try to dispose of cleaning products rather than pouring them down the drain. Cleaning water starts with us being more mindful of our pollution. Just by picking up one piece of litter you can make a huge impact on the environment.

Congratulations to all of the Winners!


Jurisdiction
Student
Name
School
City of
Atlanta
Mary Ellen ReaginMount Vernon
Presbyterian School
CherokeeBryce JonesWoodstock Middle School
ClaytonAniyah PattersonPointe South
Middle School
CobbRebekah IvesSimpson Middle School
CowetaSamuel HigginsEvans Middle School
DeKalbNora GlassKittredge Magnet School
DouglasSarah LeighBrighten Academy
FayetteTito AlofeRising Starr
Middle School
ForsythMatthew WortelSouth Forsyth
Middle School
FultonAfsheen FatimaAmana Academy
GwinnettKayla MehokHull Middle School
HallCaroline GottsmanLakeview Academy
HenryCharlotte GilreathStrong Rock
Christian School
RockdaleRubyJean RuhaniEdwards
Middle School

We invite you to read their thoughtful and creative essays.

Expeditionary Learning: Johns Creek Environmental Campus (JCEC)

Look for the second half of this story, through the science lens – next week! 

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