Of all the modern luxuries we enjoy, I think the one we all take most for granted is running water. Don’t believe me? Just this morning I took a long shower, washed some leftover dishes, and made myself a cup of tea to start the day. All this simply by turning on a faucet. I think many of us struggle to imagine of a world where fresh, clean water is not readily available.

In reality, water access is a major international issue. Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water currently sits at #6 on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In some areas of the world children must walk several miles just to collect their drinking water for the day. Even in developed countries like the United States, pollution and waste are proving detrimental to our waterways—and ultimately our watersheds. Some experts even believe the future will be marked by critical water shortages in major cities. It’s enough to make you reassess our relationship with the world’s most valuable resource.

Earth, Water, and the Classroom

With the approach of Earth Day, now is the perfect time for educators to teach students about the importance of our watersheds. By studying watersheds and aquifers, students will get a better understanding of the water cycle and the role humans play in keeping them clean. Not only that, but the subject provides multiple opportunities for your class to engage in creative, hands-on STEM activities. Just imagine how the actions we take now could protect our waterways for future generations! So, where do we begin?

With a little help from Blue Apple’s What’s in Your Water? project, here are just a few ways you can begin teaching your students about the necessity of clean water:

  • Engineer Solutions: One of the greatest threats to our water supply is the presence of pollution. Help students understand how difficult water pollution is to stop, and gain an appreciation for the importance of keeping our watersheds clean with a challenge. Have them engineer a device to try and keep dyed “polluted” water from contaminating their personal reservoir.
  • Meet a Water Warrior: There are several environmental organizations who would be more than happy to speak with your class about water quality. Reach out to the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to learn more about the threats to watersheds in our country. You could also reach out to the Kings of the Springs and discover more about Florida’s endangered freshwater springs!
  • Connect with Literature: Have students explore the waterways through reading. Connect them to the topic with books like Sea Change by Joel Harper, The Magic School Bus At the Waterworks by Joanne Cole, or You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Clean Water! by Roger Canavan. Once they have finished, have them share what they’ve learned by pretending to interview the main characters. You could also pursue the Voyage activity: If they were going to travel across the body of water in these books, what would they need? What would leave the least amount of pollution?
  • Rap it Out: Feeling funky? Have your class create a watershed rap to raise awareness about clean water! Use Audacity or YouTube to record your videos and share them with the world. You could also use social media to spread the word and educate others on the importance of watersheds.
It Starts with You

Never underestimate your students’ ability to change the world. Great ideas often begin in the classroom, and working together, your students could have a real impact on how our society understands watersheds. So, take a moment this Earth Day to educate them on the vital role they play in preserving our planet’s resources. If they enjoy these lessons and want to keep on learning, head over to blueappleteachers.org and check out the full What’s in Your Water project!

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*Image courtesy of JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons.