School Education Program Introduction
Providing water conservation education programs for school children offers three potential benefits:
- Children learn methods to conserve water in their daily routines;
- Children bring this knowledge to their homes and influence water conservation behavior on the family;
- Water awareness leaves a lasting impression on the child into adulthood and improves the water using behavior of the next generation.
It is reasonable to assume all three potential benefits are realized to some degree, the actual measured water savings has not yet been deemed measurable by researchers. The amount of water savings directly attributable by school education programs alone is wholly unknown. This is not to say these programs do not save water, it is only to say no one has discovered an accurate method to measure the long term savings. Water is essential to life and in very limited supply. It is imperative children are educated in water efficiency, and water utilities should have a active role in this education.
The program is coordinated with the administrators and teachers of the local schools, as a supplement to standard curriculums, often science studies. Time allotment is limited, so as not to impede on the core coursework of the students. The school will often schedule the water conservation program to coincide with similar topics in the curriculum of the core course of study. The school can usually afford only one to three classroom hours dedicated to water conservation.
Water conservation curriculums are usually designed for two or three different sets of grade levels, in accordance to the general aptitude of students. Often the program includes a preliminary curriculum designed for grades K through 3; an intermediate curriculum for grades 4 through 6; and sometimes a curriculum for grades 7 and 8. Rarely, water utilities implement programs for high school grade levels. There are several sources of pre-packaged curriculums available; with guidebooks, coloring books, DVDs, homework assignments, games, computer games, posters, and other add-ons. The water utility often works with the teachers to customize the curriculum for local conditions, school resources and current coursework. In many cases, a water utility representative assists in teaching the curriculum. However implemented, the program is a coordinated effort between the water and the school to better educate children on the importance of conserving water and the practical application of water conserving behavior the students can practice in their lives.
The growing need of conserving water has spurred many innovations to school education programs. Some programs include distributing low-cost water conserving devices, such as: shower heads, faucet aerators, toilet tummies, etc. Often these devices are distributed to the students in pre-packaged kits for the students to take home for their parents to install. Some programs include simple home water surveys to aid the students in discovering water saving opportunities in the home, and calculate potential water savings estimates for each recommended measure. Water utilities sometimes supply prizes to classes, based on participation or achievements. Where feasible, field trips and interactive presentations are incorporated into the program. The key to success is designing a program that excites the students to take immediate action in conserving water, while educating them in the proper water conservation practices throughout their lives.
WaterSense Educational Materials
WaterSense has developed educational materials geared towards students in 3rd through 5th grade to help them learn about water use and the importance of efficiency. Two sets of learning materials are available from WaterSense: A Day in the Life of a Drop and Fix a Leak Week Learning Resources. Materials for both of these programs can be downloaded below. More information can be found at the WaterSense Educational Materials web page.
A Day in the Life of a Drop
Teacher's Guide to Using A Day in the Life of a Drop (.pdf)
A Day in the Life of a Drop: Worksheet #1 (.pdf)
A Day in the Life of a Drop: Worksheet #2 (.pdf)
Water Use Table (.pdf)
Student and Family Pledge to Filter Out Bad Water Habits (.pdf)
Fix a Leak Week Learning Resources
Teacher's Guide to Using Fix a Leak Week (.pdf)
Fix a Leak Week: Worksheet #1 (.pdf)
Fix a Leak Week Family Fact Sheet (.pdf)
Example School Education Programs
Texas Water Development Board
St. Johns River Water Management District - The Great Water Odyssey
Marin Municipal Water District Water Wonders Education Program (.pdf)
City of Vallejo, CA School Education Program
City of Vallejo, CA School Education Program Flyer (.pdf)
City of Toronto Water Education Team