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The Ubiquitous Life Giver: Workshop on Water by Pooja Choksi

October 5, 2014 • Posted in: News, Pench Maharashtra Workshops, Workshops

Bill Bryson elucidates the significance of water through a lovely chapter, ‘The Bounding Main’, in his book A Short History of Nearly Everything. To illustrate just why Water is such an important component of our curriculum, we’d like to quote his rather rather colourful lines on water. He says, “Water is everywhere. A potato is 80 per cent water. a cow 74 per cent, a bacterium 75 per cent. a tomato, at 95 per cent is little but water. Even humans are 65 per cent water, making us more liquid than solid by a margin of almost two to one. Water is strange stuff. It is formless and transparent, and yet we long to be beside it. It has no taste and yet we love the taste of it. We will travel great distances and pay small fortunes to see it in sunshine. And even though we know it’s dangerous and drowns tens and thousands of people every year, we can’t wait to frolic in it.

The last week of September saw the students of Pench, Maharashtra getting up close and personal with water. They got right into its chemical composition to its behaviour.

With a quick introduction to the chemistry and physics of water, the students studied the water cycle that makes water just so unique. We had a little fun challenging some of the students to try water that had condensed from the use of dirty, inky water (Yes, like we are sure you have guessed, there were no volunteers, it was down to Pooja to drink it).

Students unwilling ot have the water condensed in the 'water cycle' bowl. (Image: Monica Szczupider)

Students unwilling ot have the water condensed in the ‘water cycle’ bowl.(Image: Monica Szczupider)

Many myths about the cycle once dismissed, the students’ attention was brought to the proportion of the fresh and salty water on the planet. Much to the students’ surprise, they learnt that only close to 1 per cent of the Earth’s fresh water sustains a population of seven billion. Moreover, the students learnt that the amount of water on the planet hasn’t changed since the beginning! Again, a fact that was hard to swallow.

Students get a live demonstration of how the water molecule looks and what exactly is at play in the surface tension. (Image: Monica Szczupider)

Students get a live demonstration of how the water molecule looks and what exactly is at play in the surface tension. (Image: Monica Szczupider)

Do you know why the penny can hold so many drops of water on it? (Image: Monica Szczupider)

Do you know why the penny can hold so many drops of water on it? (Image: Monica Szczupider)

Next we came down to some fun experiments to show the students the tendencies of water. Through two very entertaining experiments the students learnt how water likes to ‘stick’ due to surface tension.

Yes, that is a lot of water for a penny to hold! (Image: Monica Szczupider)

Yes, that is a lot of water for a penny to hold! (Image: Monica Szczupider)

The boys in the schools were particularly competitive and tried to beat the highest number of drops of water on a penny which stood at 50 odd drops. (Image: Monica Szczupider)

The boys in the schools were particularly competitive and tried to beat the highest number of drops of water on a penny which stood at 50 odd drops. (Image: Monica Szczupider)

Another interesting experiment to demonstrate the breaking of surface tension. Using water, pepper and some liquid soap, surface tension can be explained in just 30 seconds! (Image: Monica Szczupider)

Another interesting experiment to demonstrate the breaking of surface tension. Using water, pepper and some liquid soap, surface tension can be explained in just 30 seconds! (Image: Monica Szczupider)

To conclude, the students learnt about the concept of a water foot print. Every item we use in our daily lives has a water footprint and the knowledge of the same can significantly reduce our impact on the planet.

Our volunteer, Divya Nawale, with a group of students in the Water Footprint game. The students were meant to go on a trial, find their respective groups cards and match each item on the card to its water footprint. (Image: Monica Szczupider)

Our volunteer, Divya Nawale, with a group of students in the Water Footprint game. The students were meant to go on a trial, find their respective groups cards and match each item on the card to its water footprint.(Image: Monica Szczupider)

Needless to say, the students were highly bemused that it takes 10 litres of water to produce one sheet of paper and close to 3400 litres to produce a kilo of rice.

The reaction from one group of students for matching most of the items on the list to their water footprint correctly! (Image: Monica Szczupider)

The reaction from one group of students for matching most of the items on the list to their water footprint correctly! (Image: Monica Szczupider)

(If students can’t reach the E-Base, not a problem, we can reach out to them. Workshops on the Maharashtra side of the Pench Tiger Reserve began in July 2014. With a modified E-Base program, we take the workshops, projects and even a library to the doorstep of these students in Maharashtra. With an audience of close to 180 students this year, we are sure to make a lasting impact and continue growing as the years pass. The enthusiasm and curiousity displayed by the students in Maharashtra make every effort we take to travel for hours to reach the schools in Pench, Maharashtra worth it.

Keep up with our blog as we continue to travel to different ends of the forest of Pench to reach out to a wider audience to aggrandize our impact, thereby aggrandizing the effort to save the tiger and its home.)

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