Lesson plan "6-th goal of sustainable development - CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION"
I.Exploring Our Growing Need for Water
Appropriate for: 6th Grade - 10th Grade
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Activity Time: 120 minutes
Subjects: Analyzing & Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations, Earth & Space Science, Flipside Science
Exploring Our Growing Need for Water
In this two-day lesson, students will be introduced to several water sustainability issues, including access to clean freshwater, groundwater depletion, agricultural water use, and water waste.
On Day 1, students will explore groundwater and how the depletion of groundwater can cause land subsidence in regions like Muntenia. Students will also learn about how agricultural water use for diﬀerent crops compares to the amount of water required for raising animals on farms and ranches.
On Day 2, students will read some of the Blue Planet Network’s Stories of Water to learn about how diﬀerent people around the world struggle to have access to clean water and some of the ways they have addressed this issue. They will also explore their own water use habits and ways they can reduce water waste in their home using a water calculator from the Alliance for Water Eﬃciency and a leaky faucet calculator from the U.S. Geological
Survey’s Water Science School.
This lesson is one in a series of activities that introduce students to design thinking through the lens of exploring global water issues and the strengths and weaknesses of various solutions to these issues.
Grade levels: 6-10
1. What are some water sustainability issues we are facing around the world?
2. What controls whether or not people have access to clean freshwater?
3. What is water waste? When or how is water wasted?
4. What can happen when we pump too much water out of the ground?
1. Discover some of the water sustainability issues people are currently dealing with around the world, like water waste, access to clean freshwater, agricultural water use, and the depletion of groundwater.
2. Connect with real stories and data to learn more about the people and places where these water sustainability issues are present.
Terms for students
• Sustainability: the ability of a system to last or endure; meeting current human needs without
endangering our descendants
• Aquifer: an underground layer of rock, sand, or gravel where water can be stored within cracks or pores
• Computer with Internet access
• Flipside Science video: How Do We Meet the Growing Need for Water?
• A computer lab with at least one computer for every 2 students (for Day 2 only)
• Our Growing Need for Water Journal (1 per student)
• 1-3 glass jars filled with sand saturated with water
• 4 heads of broccoli (optional)
• 2 small bags of almonds (~ 1 handful is enough) (optional- omit these if you have students with nut allergies in your class)
• 2 small bowls of strawberries (optional)
• 1-lb weight (optional)
• 2 empty clean gallon plastic milk jugs (optional)
Total Activity Time: 2 hours over two days
1. Print out one Our Growing Need for Water Journal per student
2. Set up stations around your classroom with the following materials:
⃘⃘ Agricultural Water Use Station: calculators; optional: 1 empty gallon plastic milk jug, 1 small bagof almonds, 2 heads of broccoli, 1 small bowl of strawberries, 1-lb weight
⃘⃘ Groundwater Supply Station: 1 glass jar filled with sand saturated with water
Part I: Introduction to water use and sustainability issues (15 min.)
1. Introduce your students to water sustainability and environmental issues by showing them the Flipside Science: How Do We Meet the Growing Need for Water? video.
2. Ask for volunteers to talk about one or two things they learned from the video, and make a list of these things on the board. Explain that the youth in the video are talking about some important environmental and sustainability issues related to water. Check that students have an understanding of what ‘sustainability’ means.
3. Replay the video for students a second time.
4. Working in pairs, students will dive deeper into two of the water sustainability and environmental issues introduced in the video (they will explore the other two issues during the following class period or hour).
Part II: Exploring examples (30 min.)
1. Divide students as appropriate among the stations so small groups can explore the materials up close. It may be best to have students pair up with a single thinking buddy as they complete their journal.
2. Give students 15 minutes at each station, and then have them switch.
3. After students have completed the two activities, bring everyone back together as a class.
Part III: Day 1 reflection (15 min.)
1. Ask students to share some of their thoughts from the agricultural water use station activity.
a. How does the amount of water it takes to grow broccoli compare to strawberries?
(On an area of land the size of a football field: 81,000 gallons of water for 15,000 heads
of broccoli, 1.1 million gallons of water for 1 million almonds, 200,000 gallons of water for
b. How does the amount of water needed to raise farm animals compare to the water needed to grow fruits and vegetables? Why is so much more water needed to raise animals?
c. What other factors might come into play when making your decision about what to produce on your farm? (my total area of land, my annual availability of water, market prices for each product, my personal preferences (e.g. pigs are smelly!), how long it takes to raise animals vs. plants, etc.)
2. Ask students to share come of their thoughts from the groundwater supply station activity.
a. Why is the amount of groundwater in many parts of California decreasing? Where is the
b. Groundwater is often depleted more quickly during drought years compared to wet years. Whymight this be?
c. What are some negative impacts of pumping too much groundwater? Why would land sinking be bad for buildings or houses? How might groundwater depletion impact ecosystems in rivers and streams?
Teacher tip: If you are not able to devote two days to all of the Journal activities, you can assign the remaining activities as homework!
Students will continue to work through the two remaining activities their Journals: Wasted Water and Who Gets Clean Freshwater? These activities require students to have access to computers with Internet connections.
Part I: Exploring examples, continued (30 min.)
Book the computer lab for a full class period, and have students work in pairs to complete the rest of their journal. Leave 15-20 minutes at the end of the class period for reflection and discussion.
Part II: Day 2 reflection (30 min.)
1. Ask students to share some of their thoughts from the two web activities.
a. What are ways that you use water at home? Do you think you waste any water at home (use more than you could if you changed your behavior)?
b. What are some other sources of water waste at home?
c. What determines whether or not people have access to clean water? What are the challenges that different people deal with to get clean water?
d. Are any of the challenges you read or heard about in the stories present in your city or community that you know of?
2. Individual quiet writing reflection: Have students consider all four of the water sustainability and environmental issues that they explored over the past two days. Ask them to consider if they feel impacted by any of these issues. If so, which ones? How are they impacted? Do they know anyone else directly impacted by the same or different issues? Are there any easy solutions to these kinds of issues?
Challenge your students to brainstorm solutions to some of our global water issues in the next activity in this Flipside Science unit, Rapid Brainstorming: How Can We Conserve Our Water Resources?
Fresh Solutions: Design Thinking Challenge
Appropriate for: 6th Grade - 10th Grade
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Activity Time: 60 minutes
Subjects: Constructing Explanations, Earth & Space Science, Engineering & Technology, Flipside Science
Are your students ready to tackle a water conservation issue at home or in their school? The following guide will help you facilitate a structured design challenge in your classroom related to water use at home, at school, or in the community.
If you are using this design challenge independently of the unit, your students can become more familiar with issues surrounding our global food system and some proposed solutions by watching the Fresh Solutions videos.
‘Design thinking’ is a structured method that can be used to create a product, or to develop and implement solutions to a problem. Through the design thinking process, students can “learn to sharpen the focus of problems by precisely specifying criteria and constraints of successful solutions, taking into account not only what needs the problem is intended to meet, but also the larger context within which the problem is defined, including limits to possible solutions” (Engineering Design in the NGSS for Middle School).
The goal of this design challenge is for students to practice design thinking and how to structure a design process. Honing one’s skills in the design thinking process takes a lot of practice!
The Design Challenge Levels outlined below are adapted from Design for Change’s design thinking toolkit. Each level can be printed off and given to students as a handout as they work through the challenge. Encourage students to keep track of their ideas and progress in a design notebook or on a blog.
Design for Change's design thinking toolkit
How to Choose a Water Topic for your Design Challenge
Encourage your students to brainstorm together water use and conservation issues that they would feel empowered to tackle either at home, at school, or in their broader community. You can make this a whole class discussion, small group brainstorm, or individual homework. Check out examples of design challenge water topics on the Water Topic Design Challenge Spectrum that vary from one day challenges to week-long challenges.
Students should work through the challenge in groups. Choosing a challenge that incorporates the whole class can not only help your students build teamwork skills, but can bring comradery to your classroom as your students empower not only each other, but youth outside of their own communities through the sharing of their designs.
Design Thinking Levels for Students
Design Challenge Level 1: What do you want to change?
Think about the different groups that you are a part of: your family, your school, your city, your extracurricular clubs or sports teams, etc. Think about the water conservation issues that might be present in one of these groups. Do your family members leave the water on while brushing their teeth? Do the sprinklers on your school grounds spray a lot of water into the air?
How do you get a feel for the situation? Discuss the following issues with your group, and keep track of your progress in your design notebooks or on your design challenge blog.
· Choose an issue to focus on. Consider how much time you have to complete this design challenge.
· Observe what’s going on and who is involved.
· Reflect on what you notice and what concerns you.
· What do you already know about the issue? What do you need to find out?
· Interview those affected by the issue. Ask them questions to better understand what inspires and motivates them, what they value, and what their constraints are.
Design Challenge Level 2: How can you make a change?
Imagining change means brainstorming the possibilities. And the possibilities multiply when you can brainstorm without constraints. Thinking outside of the box and sharing your ideas can lead to highly successful and perhaps unforeseen solutions.
How do you decide on a design? Discuss the following issues with your group, and keep track of your progress in your design notebooks or on your design challenge blog.
· Set yourself a time limit and brainstorm as many ideas as you can. Really go for it! Set a goal- 10, 20, 100 ideas? Make a list or draw pictures of anything that comes to mind, no matter how silly or impossible it might seem.
· Share your ideas with others. Can any of your ideas be combined with someone else’s? Are there common themes or categories that your ideas can be organized into?
· Vote on a subset of solutions. Draw out the pros and cons of each solution.
· Vote on the best solution.
Design Challenge Level 3: Make the change!
Put your hard hats on! Now is the time to get to work. Remind yourself why you have accepted this challenge! What is motivating you to design a solution? Who is going to benefit or be impacted by your solution?
What do you need to take action? Discuss the following points with your group, and keep track of your progress in your design notebooks or on your design challenge blog.
· Make a list of what resources you will need (supplies AND people) and where/how you will get them.
· Draw up a plan for the steps that you will take to achieve your goal.
· Divide up the work.
· Draw up a timeline for your plan and set goals for completion.
· Make it happen! Implement your plan.
· Reflect on what happened. What worked? What didn’t work? What could you change? What did you learn?
Design Challenge Level 4: Share your experience
Congratulations on completing your design! You should be proud of your accomplishment and want to share it with others. Think about a time when someone else’s inspiring story has motivated you to take action. Inspire others to make changes and design solutions by sharing your own experience! How will you empower others? Discuss the following points with your group, and keep track of your progress in your design notebooks or on your design challenge blog.
· Share your story at a school assembly.
· Publish a blog that other youth can read.
· Create a Facebook page to showcase your project.
· Share your experience on Twitter. Encourage others to use the same hash tag to share their stories.
· Post a short video onto Youtube about your solution.
· Present your solution to the Principal or at a local community meeting.
· Send your findings to your local newspaper, or invite a journalist in to your classroom.