A Lesson from Education Program, Water Rocks: "Don't Treat Mother Earth like Dirt"

How do you get kids to pay attention to lessons about important but not necessarily attention-grabbing topics like water quality and soil erosion?

Heavy metal rock anthems about cover crops and raps about watersheds are not often linked to science education, but for Jacqueline Comito, program director for Iowa Learning Farms, it's a perfect fit.

"Sense of humor is, I think, one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal," says Comito, who is also a musician.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks to the team behind "Water Rocks!" - a creative, conservation education initiative from Iowa Learning Farms, part of Iowa State University Extension.

With song titles like "Salute to Wastewater" and "Don't Treat Mother Earth Like Dirt," Water Rocks tours the state from April to October, visiting schools, county fairs, farmers markets, and community festivals to spread their message of science and fun.

"The music is really designed to connect emotionally, but also to be totally grounded in the science - to engage young people with, 'What are these issues that are going on around us every day?'" says Ann Staudt, Water Rocks science director. 

The main venues for Water Rocks are assemblies across the state's schools. Todd Stevens, Water Rocks music and outreach specialist, says their performances are always well-attended.

"We just hit them with the music right away and get them up dancing," Stevens says. "We'll get like 80 to 100 kids up dancing." 

It astounds teachers that after so much energy, the kids sit down and pay attention to the science behind the songs. 

"It's grounded in sound science and it's a whole lot of fun," Staudt says.