For the 15th year, Henry County Schools’ third-graders bookend their fall break with field trips promoting science, technology, engineering and math studies.

About 3,100 students and 120 teachers either participated Sept. 10 to 14 or will be going Sept. 24 to 27 to the Henry County Water Authority’s Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center in Locust Grove.

Authority spokesman Chris Wood, Ph.D., said the award-winning Cubihatcha Kids program provides hands-on learning for students through activities that correlate with the Georgia Standards of Excellence and STEM studies.

“In addition, the field trips encourage student appreciation of natural resources and awareness of the water (and) sewer utility’s role in the community,” he said in a statement.

More than 43,000 students have gone through the program, which this year includes classes with names like A Drop in the Bucket, The Amazing Georgia Pine and Project WET, taught by authority staff.

The school board is providing classes, Wood said, that include Fred the Fish and Oh Deer!

Other partners include Henry County’s stormwater management department teaching a class on pollution prevention and the Snapping Shoals and Central Georgia electric membership corporations with lessons on safety.

Georgia 4-H contributes a class on aquatic creatures called water striders and will host its H2O Olympics.

The Georgia Forestry Commission has a class on trees and the Georgia Farm Bureau will instruct students about tractor safety, Wood said.

The Georgia Association of Water Professionals gave the authority its Gold Award for public education program excellence, Wood said.

The program also earned an inaugural honor in 2016 for sustainable, thoughtful, regional, engaged, applicable and measurable results.

“The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District has recognized the Cubihatcha Kids initiative with its STREAM award for education and outreach program excellence,” Wood said.

It also participated, sending instructors like Kostoula Vallianos to help children make the connection between manmade factors and environmental effects.

“We are learning about watersheds, nonpoint pollution and how our personal actions can affect water quality,” she said in 2016, before leading an activity in which students sprayed maps with water to see the effect of runoff.

The center is 1,000 acres of forests, wetlands, nature trails and outdoor recreation facilities.

A term from Native American language meaning “land between the lakes” gave the center its name, as it is situated between two of the authority’s five reservoirs, Wood said.

Its construction coincided with the authority’s wetlands mitigation plan that went with building its reservoir network, he said.

“Shortly after the facility opened, the Cubihatcha staff began hosting field trips for Henry County students in 2003,” Wood said.

Organizers include the authority, the school board and the county commission, as well as public and private organizations, Wood said, under the Henry County Outdoor Education Partnership umbrella.

They provide resources, he said, and volunteers faculty members.

The center, at 100 Collins Drive, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Information: 678-583-3930 or https://bit.ly/2QyhvqJ

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