Humble

WaterWorks Education Center

IMG_1202Yesterday we had the pleasure of visiting the WaterWorks Education Center in Humble with our local homeschool group.  I cannot speak highly enough of our experience ~ both from the ease of coordinating the Field Trip and our experiences on the tour.The tour began with a 15 minute slide-show presentation explaining water, the water cycle, ground water, and how the City of Houston captures, cleans, and distributes water.  Our presenter did an excellent job engaging the children (and adults) with questions throughout the presentation.  She was also open to students asking questions during the presentation instead of requiring they wait until the end.

We were then led to an interactive exhibit winding around behind the theater.  Children were given a clipboard and asked to “find” answers to questions. Younger children/pre-readers were given a list of pictures to participate in a “scavenger hunt” on their own level.  I loved that the employees were available to help the children if they were interested in finding everything in their sheet ~ but weren’t overly concerned if the children just wanted to explore the exhibits on their own terms.IMG_1213

We ended in a “classroom” setting with tables and chairs.  Another presenter spoke in further detail about the water cycle.  We then played a game where various “parts” of the cycle were scattered around the room.  Each station had a box of pony beads & a large “die” or “cube” to be rolled.  The children were each given a lanyard.  They picked a starting point, grabbed a bead & then rolled.  The die for that “station” would have each “next step” in the water cycle on each side.  Depending on what they rolled, the students would proceed to the appropriate station and collect another bead.  This was a great way to reinforce the various ways that water *moves* throughout our world.

Each child was given a bag of “goodies” to take home including: crayons, coloring/activity books, stickers, bracelets, and cups.  There were also resource materials for parents & teachers to take home.  

IMG_1204Recommended ages:  The center is completely prepared to meet the needs of any age group.  Even as a homeschool group bringing toddlers to high school age students ~ they were able to adapt & split the presentation to meet each student on their level.  I made the mistake of failing to inform them ahead of time that the majority of our registrants were young elementary age ~ they still quickly and without any fuss adapted the program.  For that, I am incredibly grateful.

They offer programs for public, private, and home school groups.  They also offer tours for adults.  They are willing to adapt the program to meet the needs of your group.  I think that this would be a perfect trip for our Cub Scout Pack to earn their Weather Belt Loop and Pin.

Anything we wish was different?  At this time, visitors cannot tour the actual treatment facility.  It was quite cold the day we visited.  We were told when the weather is nice, they will go out and look at the various parts from the Education Center parking lot ~ but it’s not possible to actually walk through the plant.IMG_1208

How do I set up a trip?  Call or e-mail WaterWorks Houston.  There is a form available to download that can be e-mailed along with your request.  I would suggest inquiring as to which tours are most appropriate for the age group you plan to bring.

A note about parking.  DO NOT USE YOUR GPS ~ it’s not going to be correct.  WaterWorks provides directions & a map on their website.  Use them!  The directions can seem a little counter-intuitive (as you are asked to make a right turn in order to u-turn), but once you are there it makes complete sense.  There’s also several, albeit small, blue signs to help keep you going to right direction.  You must check in at the security gate and all adults must present a valid picture ID.  Parking is ample and directly in front of the entrance.

What else is there to do nearby?  We’re still exploring the area ~ but here are some places we’ve visited in Humble.

Categories: Elementary, Field Trips, Free, High School, Humble, Middle School, Toddlers / Preschool | 1 Comment

Houston Gem & Mineral Show

Each year in November, the Houston Gem and Mineral Society hosts a 3-day event showcasing stones, minerals, jewelry, fossils, as well as geological fields and artistry.

This year, our family had the pleasure of going twice.  On Friday as part of an organized field trip to their “School Daze” and again on Saturday with our Webelos Patrol so the boys could earn their “Geologist Activity Badge”.

I coordinated the event on Friday.  As I had never been to the show before, it was quite the learning experience for me.  There are a few things I would do differently, but overall ~ we had an excellent time.

The show is held at the Humble Civic Center, which is on Will Clayton Parkway just East of 59N outside Beltway 8.  Homeschool groups must register in advance for 1/2 hour time slots in the afternoon.  (Public & Private schools are assigned the morning slots.)  I contacted the Field Trip coordinator for HGMS in August and secured the 1pm time spot.  Two weeks in advance I provided her with the grade level of each student attending.  While homeschoolers are allowed to bring younger children, the event is designed for students age 5+.

The show put a great deal of work into designing “Scavenger Hunts” for various grade-levels.  K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, & 8+ each have separate, age-appropriate pages with questions that can be answered at various booths & presentations throughout the show.  Each level is color-coded and has their own “course ” through the show.  Maps are provided.  Booths that are answering questions have colored balloons corresponding as well.

While this is perfect for a school group with ten 4th graders, we had 14 students spanning nearly every grade level.  At first, we tried to stay together as one single group.  We quickly found that it was often too many people to hear well and that everyone preferred to travel at their own pace.  So, we broke off and followed our own paths.  The show is open to families choosing whichever “level” they wish.  We chose to combine and work on a single-level together.

At the end, we turned in our sheets and were given a free gem or mineral.  Both our children chose quartz.

We returned on Saturday with the Webelos.  The Scouts were free, the only charge was for the adults attending.  Adults

were even allowed to utilize the $1 off coupon posted on the HGMS website.  I was incredibly impressed at how much effort volunteers had put in to the presentations.  As long as the Scout followed the sheet they were given they would leave earning their “Geologist Activity Badge”.   Unfortunately, some people who had volunteered did not show up.  However, the coordinators stepped in and managed beautifully.

The boys were treated to several interactive experiences discussing identification of minerals, rock cycle, water cycle, and volcanic activity.  We then traveled to various exhibitors to learn answers to questions about fossils and Geological careers.  Each boy went home with a bag full of at least 5 minerals to complete the requirements for a collection.

Recommended ages:  For Friday’s School day they ask that registered students be 5 years or older.  Younger siblings were allowed, but families will find that the layout and activities are not designed for pre-schoolers.  Families pushing strollers might find it difficult to navigate.  While aisles were wide, it was quite crowded on both days.  For Scouts ~ it’s obviously for those who are actually Scouts.  Other Packs/Troops brought siblings but the event was booked to capacity and it was quite difficult to squeeze everyone in with the unexpected attendees.

Anything we wish was different?  Both days were really well planned and organizers provided a significant amount of materials including maps.  The only change I’d make is to the HGMS website.  It utilizes panes and no matter what you click on ~ the web address stays the same.  This makes it impossible to share directly links to pertinent information and forces users to click around repeatedly every time they visit the site.  Which leads to difficulties with…

How do I set up a trip?  For reasons explained above, I can’t give you direct links.  Click on the “Annual Show” button, then scroll down and there’s a “Kids Day” link, the first link on that page will be “School Daze Earth Science Information”.  This page provides individual links for Public & Private Schools, Homeschools, or Scouts to register.  The coordinator for School Daze is different than for Scouts.  I found them both to be incredibly helpful.  I would recommend signing up for both at the beginning of September as spots fill up quickly in both programs.  School Daze Program is free.  On Saturday Scouts are free and Adult chaperones are $7 (a coupon for $1/off can be printed from the site).

A note about parking.  Parking is free at the Humble Civic Center.  On Friday,  the West lot is reserved for Bus loading/unloading.  It was requested we park in the East lot.  This worked well as check-in and the scavenger hunt begin at the West Entrance and end at the East Entrance.  On Saturday, everyone enters through the main doors on the South side of the building.  Again, activities began on the West side of the venue and ended on the East.

What else is there to do nearby?  This was quite enough adventure for our family for one day.  Other places in Humble to visit include KSBJ Studios and WaterWorks Education Center.  Both of these tours are free, but do require advanced registration.

Categories: $5.01-$10, Elementary, Free, High School, Humble, Middle School, November | 1 Comment

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