Aqua Globes: Conserving Water With Children
"Will Our Plants Die?"
A few months ago my family decided to plant a vegetable/fruit garden. Just a few green beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and watermelons. I knew my daughter/naturalist would enjoy exploring nature in a very hands-on way. Gardening gave my daughter concrete answers to very abstract ideas like life-cycles, evaporation and photosynthesis. My five-year-old daughter nurtured our garden into a thriving little farmer's market, even picking her own green beans for a few family meals. During our weekly trips to Walmart, shoppers would smile when they overheard my daughter saying, "Mommy, do you think the water vapors from the garden went up to the sky? Is it going to rain now?" Thus, when we realized we would be heading out to Donner Lake for a week, my daughter instantly asked, "Who's going to water the garden? Will our plants die?"
My heart sank the instant my daughter uttered those words. I had purposely planted the garden away from our automatic sprinklers, giving our family the responsibility, and unique experience, of caring for our garden from beginning to end. Would it be the end of our garden considering our Donner Lake vacation happened to be during a heat wave in the Bay Area? I was determined to keep that from happening. We were not ready to say good-bye to our precious garden.
Immediately I began researching various ideas on how to keep an outdoor garden watered while on vacation. Many people suggested using Aqua-Globes which are glass modules, that when filled with water, could be inserted upside down in the soil where they gradually release water as the soil becomes dry. I loved this idea and instantly thought of a way to teach my daughter a valuable lesson about conservation.
A week before our trip to Donner Lake I took my daughter out to the garden and we discussed why there is a shortage of water. I explained how the Earth needs rain to provide water for all living things. I also explained how people sometimes take for granted the gifts offered by rain and how all people, at one time or another, waste this precious gift. She asked, " Even us?" I answered, "Yes, even us." My daughter replied,"Let's stop doing that."
So, we devised a little experiment to see how much water we waste when watering the garden. It was also my little test to see if the Aqua-Globes really worked. We filled our watering can with a gallon of water, and before she watered the garden, I asked my daughter to pick up the gallon of water. She screamed, "This watering can is too heavy!" That was the response I was looking for. We watered the garden with TWO gallons of water, like we always do, and then we headed back inside.
The next day we checked our garden and my daughter noticed how dry the soil looked and felt. She reached out to grab the watering can, but I stopped my daughter and told her I had a surprise. I brought out the beautiful Aqua-Globes and explained how they work. Each globe holds about 1 1/2 cups of water and gradually releases the water down into the soil. I filled a measuring cup with 1 1/2 cups of water and then I filled the watering can with a gallon of water. I asked, "Which one has more water?" Just by looking my daughter replied, "The big watering can." I asked my daughter to pick each one up. My daughter said, "We need to use the watering can. These Aqua things are too light. They don't have enough water." I replied, "Let's find out."
We didn't use the watering can that day. Instead we used eight Aqua-Globes, making sure to spread them all around the garden. All eight Aqua-Globes used about 12 cups of water versus the watering can that, when filled up twice, used about 32 cups of water. What a difference!! Even better, the Aqua-Globes offered a pretty accent to the garden.
The next day we checked on our garden and noticed the soil looked damp, not wet, and the plants appeared to be doing well. The Aqua-Globes still had plenty of water. I estimate only 1/2 inch of water had receded in one day. We didn't have to water the garden that day or the day after. Actually, the Aqua-Globes lasted four days during warm weather (about 80-85 degrees). So, rather than using the watering can everyday, which would have used 62 cups of water in four days, we used about 12 cups of water with the Aqua-Globes.
On that fourth day I sat down with my daughter by the garden. We talked about how much less water we needed for the garden by using the Aqua-Globes. We talked about how the water we saved could be used for drinking, taking showers or brushing our teeth. We discussed how important it is to be mindful of how much water we use around the house and to not take for granted the gifts that are given to us.
Then, to bring this experiment full circle, we discussed our vacation to Donner Lake. Would our plants die? Could they survive for seven days in the heat? Now, thanks to the Aqua-Globes, they would survive using less water in a more environmentally friendly household. As my daughter said, "Those Aqua things are good."
Useful Tip: Make a hole for the Aqua-Globes before inserting the globe into the soil. This prevents the soil from becoming trapped in the tube.
Another Great Idea- Teaching Science Through Gardening
- Teaching Science Through Gardening
Science is found everywhere in the world around us. Exploring nature with children creates unique learning opportunities and builds a sense of wonder in young minds.
Let There Be Mud
- Education And Nature: Let There Be Mud!
Teachable moments can be found everywhere, even while playing in the mud. By allowing children to explore the natural world you open their minds to a wealth of knowledge that will last a lifetime.