Teaching Students About the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis
Flint, Michigan has been a central point of crisis for the United States over the past several years. The city’s water supply has been tainted with lead and other pollutants – a crisis that has led to numerous initiatives and community organizing as people try to mitigate the problem.
As a teacher, it can be important to educate students about this crisis, both to inform them about real-world issues and to empower them to take action. This article summarizes some of the ways teachers can begin to introduce this topic and engage students in conversations and activities surrounding Flint, Michigan’s water problem.
Introducing the Flint Water Crisis
When introducing a new topic, it’s essential to start with foundational concepts and vocabulary. You can begin by stating that the Flint water crisis is an ongoing environmental and public health disaster located in Michigan. You can tell students that there was a change in the water system in Flint from 2014-2015 that led to lead contamination in the city’s water supply.
To help students understand the severity of the issue, it can be useful to share stories of individuals who have been affected by the water crisis. This could include people who have suffered from health problems related to lead exposure, as well as those who have been affected in other ways (e.g., having to purchase bottled water for years on end).
Why Did the Flint Water Crisis Happen?
One way to explore the cause of the Flint water crisis is to provide a simplified version of events that led to the contamination of the city’s water. In 2013, Flint faced financial difficulties, and the state of Michigan implemented a cost-saving decision that changed the city’s water source.
Instead of sourcing water from Lake Huron, Flint began taking water from the Flint River, which caused the lead problem. The water source had been treated with chemicals to make it safe to drink, but the chemicals corroded the city’s aging lead pipes, leading to lead contamination. This decision and others made by local and state governments were all attributed as factors that led to the Flint water crisis.
How Can Students Help?
Teaching students about the Flint water crisis can be a powerful way to motivate them to action. Helping students understand the impact of this crisis can inspire them to take action. Depending on the interests and skills of your students, there are numerous ways they can help.
One way students can help is by raising awareness about the Flint water crisis and its impact. Students can create multimedia projects (such as PowerPoint presentations or YouTube videos) to explain the crisis to others.
Another way students can help is by participating in fundraising campaigns. Organizations like Flint Water Fund, United Way of Genesee County, and Flint Kids Fund are some examples. These funds can help raise money for children affected by the water crisis by providing health care or other services.
Teaching students about the Flint water crisis can be an excellent way to inform them about a real and ongoing challenge facing the United States. By engaging students through storytelling, exploring causes, and opportunities to make a difference, teachers can inspire the next generation to take action and help rebuild and revitalizing their communities. It is an important opportunity to educate students about the importance of ethical decision-making, accountability, and environmental justice.