LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Packing the kids’ bags for the summer day camp field trip usually requires some sunscreen, a sack lunch and bug spray. But on a regular basis, one state government agency offers a day trip that talks about the sun’s effect on the planet and looks at good bugs in our water.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is not exactly the zoo or an amusement park, but they are getting good at creating a learning program for elementary school kids and campers.
“I think the first reaction is 'what in the heck is Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality?’” said Erika Droke, a program coordinator for ADEQ. “It's a long string of words and for children that can be a little bit of a daunting subject.”
We visited on the same day as a dozen kids from the “Our House” summer program. The lights, the balls and the bugs on display quickly got their attention.
“When we get them in we try to work with them on things that are STEM related,” Droke said. “We get hands-on with them and that sort of breaks that barrier of knowledge.”
Droke says they try to get one or two groups into the North Little Rock headquarters a month and they also organize school visits. The “hands-on” portion of the presentation includes pretending to be a water molecule and visiting stations representing the water cycle. There's a talk about energy and fun with photovoltaic lights. All leading up to the big bug out, with vials of insect specimens for every child to explore through a magnifying glass. So it’s a government agency dealing with bugs. Only this isn't Watergate. It's Water Quality.
“We can get into answering questions and asking questions so that's the first thing. Letting them come in, and letting them guide us,” Droke said. “Science is something that's just incredible. I think if anyone would just take a moment to look around and learn a little bit about the things that are in our world and in our environment, it's very entertaining.”