Inquiry project: How clean is your water? (in printable PDF format)


Water touches all aspects of human life - from our basic need of water for survival to the agricultural and industrial development of every human civilization. Life on Earth began in water and the connection between life and water remains unbroken, as water is a fundamental part of all living organisms. The need for water has been a driving force of social, economic and cultural development throughout human history. However, residents of large cities like New York usually know little about the natural sources of the water they use and drink everyday and how they can contribute to avoid water waste and pollution.

Water City provides fun and relevant information that can be integrated into classroom activities about the topic of water. For instance, students can conduct investigations of the long travel of water from its natural sources until it reaches their homes, learn about the hydrologic cycle and research the ways in which water is storaged in their buildings and neighborhoods. Students can also learn what to do in order to avoid wasting water in their everyday activities and understand the importance of keeping water clean for the life quality of humans and other organisms.

Bringing students’ resources into the science classroom
The topic of water provides a unique opportunity to integrate students’ knowledge and experiences into the classroom. For example, students usually hold a diversity of experiences with water in the city, including first-hand observations of different bodies of water such as ponds, rivers or even the ocean. Children’s knowledge about aquatic plants or animals can also become tools for class projects in which students research the characteristics of aquatic ecosystems, including bodies of water located in the school neighborhood.

In addition, students usually have many questions about why we need water for survival: Why do we feel thirsty after doing exercise? In which part of our bodies do we keep the water we drink? What may happen to us if the water we drink is not clean? What causes water to be polluted? These and other similar questions can become starting points for the development of inquiry projects. Also, through the lesson How clean is your water? students can test different samples of water for pollution and investigate how pollution affects a living organism.

Finally, in order to connect this topic with students’ lives outside of school students can conduct a research study regarding the use of water in their families and communities: How much water do I and my family use every day? How much water can we save? (see Go Wild in New York City, page 17). The development of this kind of activities can promote students’ engagement in direct action, such as changing their own personal habits of water consumption, or promoting their community awareness of the importance of preserving water natural sources.

Inquiry project: How clean is your water? (in printable PDF format).