Transparency of Water: A workshop on math, water, and justice

Selene Gonzalez-Carillo and Martha Merson
Rethinking Mathematics, A People's Curriculum for the Earth, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 18-23, Spr 2013


If a teacher is an environmental organizer, like Selene Gonzales-Carillo, the classroom is a conference room, the community garden, or a church parking lot. Students are everyone–from toddlers to the elderly; they come with a variety of levels of formal education. The goal is to increase environmental justice, community well-being, and individuals’ health. A math educator/curriculum writer with an interest in data, like Martha Merson, may teach in adult ed and K-12 classrooms, libraries, and living rooms. Though students are often math-averse, the goal is to encourage adults and youth to take a new look at numbers, and to ask questions. Statistics for Action (SfA), a program that provides organizers and community members with tools and resources for understanding and using scientific data in communities affected by environmental contamination, brought Gonzales-Carillo and Merson together to lead an SfA-inspired workshop in Spanish that was designed to probe participants’ distrust of tap water and arm them with skills and knowledge to take on water quality/delivery issues.