EO-01. We are Water: Connecting Communities

We are Water partners with libraries to bring STEAM programs and an exhibition to rural, Latinx, and Indigenous communities in the Four Corners Region of the U.S. The project engages community members in conversations about their personal and community connections to local water topics. Stories and community voices are highlighted and woven throughout the educational experiences visitors have with the project. Through experiences with We are Water, communities will explore their shared watershed and local ecosystems, and connect with neighbors through their common and unique experiences with water in the region. We hope individuals, families, and communities will share their memories and stories about water, and come together to imagine a future they want for their communities. For the past three years of the project, CIRES Education & Outreach designed virtual and take-home activities for library patrons, and a trilingual exhibition (Navajo, Spanish, and English). The traveling exhibition was hosted by libraries starting in 2022 and will continue through 2023. We are Water springs from an exciting collaboration between scientists, Indigenous science educators, learning researchers, informal educators, evaluators, and library staff. Funded by the National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning program (NSF-AISL), the project aims to: 1. Engage visitors with diverse scientific and cultural perspectives on water topics of the Four Corners Region through exhibits, learning experiences, and learning resources. 2.Connect visitors with local water topics, stories and concerns in their communities. 3. Grow rural and tribal library staff capacity to engage diverse audiences in STEAM and multiple ways of knowing about water in the natural world. 4. Advance informal science learning scholarship through a culturally responsive approach when understanding, - The effects of engaging with the exhibit and learning experiences on how visitors see water topics in new ways; desire to communicate their knowledge and experiences about water; desire to apply new learning about water; and desire to engage in new and similar learning opportunities about water topics. - The role of libraries and library staff as part of a community engagement ecosystem about water topics - Interest and awareness of multiple ways of knowing about water in the natural world.