As children watched water flow through a plastic model of Tucson's watershed or pumped dyed water into a water-cycle simulation, the Project WET booth accomplished its goal at Tucson's Earth Day Festival Sunday.

The University of Arizona's Project WET, which stands for Water Education for Teachers, is designed to teach elementary and middle school students about Tucson's water scarcity and how to start conserving water. WET uses hands-on models and simulations of Tucson's watershed and groundwater pumping.

It was among dozens of exhibitions at the festival held at Reid Park, which included a parade.

"The kids wouldn't be able to understand if they couldn't see it," said Robert Kincanon, who brought his children to the Earth Day Festival.

The WET booth allows children to see the bigger picture of the Earth Day Festival.

"It's really important to bring my kids, because I think they need to see this and recognize that we only have one Earth and we need to take care of it," said Todd Bernhard, who attended the festival with his children.

"What kid doesn't want to touch things?" he said of the WET booth appeal. "Then they will actually take something away."

Presenters interacted with children, asking questions such as "Is Tucson surrounded by mountains?" and "Have you ever heard the word 'watershed' before?"

"It's really important to get started on kids young to teach them about environmental stuff," said Kelsea Jondall, one of the presenters and a junior studying education at the UA.

"By using models, kids can actually see how to conserve water, how to manage a watershed with drains and canals, and how water is polluted."

This model "really resonates with (kids)," said Yvonne Mery, a mother who brought her daughter to the festival. "It's very active - better than just sitting and listening to a teacher."

On StarNet: View more photos of Earth Day festivities at

Drew McCullough is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact him at 573-4117 or at