Delaware Fourth Graders Make a Splash

DOVER – More than 770 fourth-grade students from seven elementary schools participated in Wednesday’s Make a Splash festival, a DNREC-sponsored event that educates students on the diversity of estuary life and the importance of Delaware’s water resources. The festival was held at the St. Jones Reserve, a component of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs’ John Dickinson Plantation near Dover – wonderful locations for the students to explore past and present water resource issues.

“Make a Splash provides the students with hands-on experiences that tie together everything they have learned this school year about land, water and Delaware history,” said Maggie Pletta, education coordinator with DNREC’s Delaware Coastal Programs. “It is our hope that providing students with this opportunity will help them connect what they learned in the classroom to real life, and experiencing those connections will ignite a flame in them making the next generation of Delaware’s water resource stewards.”

Students visited 25 activity stations dedicated to the historical and current uses of Delaware’s water resources. At a station called “The Incredible Journey,” students learned how water moves through the water cycle and how only a relatively small amount of the world’s water is actually available for human use on the earth. At other stations, they explored marine debris and micro-plastics, water pollution and solutions, Delaware’s wetlands, mosquitoes, the uses of water in colonial cooking, water concentration, historical use of water wheels and groundwater, just to name a few.

“Our fourth graders who come each year really benefit from this experience, learning about how much water we have in Delaware and the important role it plays in our lives,” said Jennifer Donihue, fourth grade teacher from Lighthouse Christian School. “Make a Splash teaches them how important it is to keep our water clean for everyone to enjoy and to provide habitat for our wildlife.”

Delaware’s Make a Splash festival has been educating students and encouraging actions to help protect water resources for 18 years. The 2017 planning committee included representatives from: the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Delaware Project WET; Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs’ John Dickinson Plantation; the National Park Service; and Tidewater Utilities.

Participating schools included: Allen Frear Elementary, Camden Wyoming; Harlan Elementary, Wilmington; Lighthouse Christian School, Dagsboro; MOT Charter School, Middletown; Newark Charter School, Newark; Phillis Wheatley Elementary, Bridgeville; South Dover Elementary, Dover.

More than 100 volunteers – educators, scientists, teachers and parents – participated in today’s festival and included staff from: Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Delaware Department of Agriculture; Delaware Nature Society; Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; Kent Conservation District; New Castle Conservation District; Sussex Conservation District; Tidewater Utilities; the National Park Service; the City of Dover; the University of Delaware; the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary; the Delaware Department of Transportation; and Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Office of Drinking Water.

To explore the many educational opportunities and workshops offered at DNREC’s Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve, contact Maggie Pletta at 302-739-6377 or visit

This project is part of Delaware’s Children in Nature Initiative, a statewide effort to improve environmental literacy in Delaware, create opportunities for children to participate in enriching outdoor experiences, combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles. Delaware’s multi-agency initiative, which partners state and federal agencies with community organizations, is part of the national No Child Left Inside program. For more information, click Children in Nature.