Children's ground water fest educates over 1,000 students

Colleen Cross
June 14, 2017
By Colleen Cross
Kitchener, Ont. – The Waterloo Wellington Children's Groundwater Festival welcomed more than 1,000 students on May 31, the last day of the annual event at Doon Heritage Village in Kitchener, Ont.

More than 50 teaching stations taught visiting children from area elementary schools the role of ground water and surface water in the environment, including concepts like rock formations, conservation and water quality.


Tom Nicol of the Ontario Clean Water Agency was one of many volunteers helping out at the event, which is in its 23rd year. For a week, Nicol manned an old-fashioned hand pump where kids could try their hand at pumping water and realize just how much work their ancestors went through to have potable water from drinking and farm use. His father, Don Nicol, a retired employee of the OCWA, also helped educate students at the station, called "Well Model."

Activity stations included "No Water Off a Duck's Back," where students learn what happens when a duck's feathers become coated in contaminated water, and "Feel the Flow," where students get a close-up and tactile experience with how water travels through sand.

Aardvark Drilling of Guelph lent out a drill rig for the day and two volunteers who explained to the kids some of the finer points of drilling.

Chief Top Leaf (Albert McArdle) of the Mohawk Nation held court in a restored barn telling stories of human's relationship to the natural world around them. Chief Top Leaf volunteers every year, said organizer Peter Gray. "He's an amazing storyteller," Gray said.

Gray, who is vice-president and senior hydrogeologist for MTE Consultants in Kitchener, Ont., is a founding director and the volunteer president of the Children’s Water Education Council (CWEC), a registered, non-profit charitable organization that in 1994 staged the first Children’s Groundwater Festival in Milton. Since then, he has led the Waterloo Wellington Children’s Groundwater Festival committee and spearheaded several creative education programs for kids from the elementary level up to university.

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