In 2012, IES began to target elementary students as an ideal group to educate about toxic household chemicals found in personal care products. Students represent the future of environmental decision-making. Research has found this is the ideal age to introduce students to environmental problems. IES developed an interactive, hands-on workshop series that consisted of an introductory demonstration workshop followed by a three-workshop series. The workshops were developed for the sixth grade at Mitchell Elementary School in Golden, CO. The demo workshop, presented on November 30, 2012, provided a brief overview of household contaminants found in products that students likely use daily. Students participated in a hands-on activity about water pollution and created contaminant free hand-sanitizer.The three-workshop series was presented in April 2013. Each workshop focused on a specific contaminant found in products students use daily and where free and low-cost alternatives exist. The three-workshop series included an at-home assignment where students set goals to reduce their chemical footprint. After Workshop 1, students conducted a count of cans and plastic bottles in their recycling bins at home. Many of these items contain BPA (bisphenol-A), which is harmful to humans and the environment. Students developed strategies to reduce their chemical footprint. Between Workshop 2 and Workshop 3, students conducted another count to see if they could achieve their goal to reduce their chemical footprint.
The successful workshops at Mitchell Elementary and positive response from community members prompted IES to develop a replicable, interactive, stand-alone Workshop in a Box to educate more Colorado students about water pollution caused by household and personal care products. Workshop in a Box educates elementary school students to become Blue Crew Water Stewards, improve water quality, and reduce exposure to contaminants in everyday personal care and household products, such as hand soap, shampoo, insect repellent, and packaged foods.
IES is developing the Blue Crew Water Stewards Program Teacher Training Program. This program will provide teachers with a curriculum and several hands-on activities that focus on water pollution from household and personal care products. Teachers are able to implement this curriculum in their classrooms, and further pollution prevention.