Water Inquiry and The Year on Climate Change

The fall semester is underway, and students are settling into classes. Already, Water Inquiry has a ton of news to share, including a new project we’ve been working on since last year.

But first, it’s our pleasure to introduce some (relatively) new members of our team.

Emily Buck (she/her) is a first year from Iowa City, IA. Although she’s unsure what she wants to major in, literature and the humanities interest her. She decided to work with Water Inquiry because it combines so many things she loves: activism, creativity, problem-solving, and kids. Being new, she’s excited to find out where she fits in the team! Her other interests include playing the bassoon, spending time outdoors, and rock climbing.


Camille Butterfield (she/her) is a studio art major and landscape studies minor who’s well-acquainted with the New England wilderness despite growing up in Mamaroneck, NY. She’s fascinated by the intersection and combination of art and science, hoping to use her creative abilities to spread awareness of climate change. As such, Water Inquiry is a perfect fit for these interests, and she looks forward to making art that will excite and encourage students to further research current pressing environmental issues. Camille also runs for Smith’s cross country and track teams, reads, writes, bikes, hikes, and attempts to make music. 

Returning members include: Kat Van Green, Emily Buxengaard, Anna Wysocki, Abigail Moon, Brittany Collins, and faculty facilitator Carol Berner.

Camille’s sketch for journal

This September also marked the beginning of Smith’s Year On Climate Change, a campus-wide initiative proposed by the Study Group on Climate Change, a group of staff, faculty, students, alumnae, and trustees created in 2015 by Smith College President Kathy McCartney to determine the ways in which the College can effectively combat climate change. For this academic year, the school invites members of the Smith community to critically consider climate change both in and out of the classroom as a serious and complex issue. As part of that initiative, Smith hosted the Climate Equity and Justice: Solutions in Action conference from October 4-6, during which participants attended relevant lectures and conferences featuring a wide range of speakers, on topics such as coral reefs and environmental mindfulness, to the Farm to School movement and solar power overseas.

Stella Bowles portrait by Abby Moon

For our own part, Water Inquiry’s newest project seeks to empower kids to take action against climate change in their own communities. We’re creating a set of interactive journal prompts designed to provoke creative and critical thinking about water activism in middle school students. These prompts are inspired by young water activists around the world, such as Stella Bowles from Nova Scotia, who tested for fecal bacteria in her river and shared the shocking results on social media to pressure lawmakers into action! From water quality testing to political lobbying, there are many ways students can make a difference, and this project sets out to show just that.

Unfinished Story Box: pilots this week!

We’ll provide updates on all our projects, new and old, as the semester continues, so keep your eyes open for more. Thank you for reading, and if you are a classroom teacher interested in bringing Water Inquiry curricula to your school, or a Smith student interested in joining our project, please contact Carol Berner, Professor of Education & Child Study, at cberner@smith.edu to find out more!

Written by Kat Van Green


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