Discovering Our "Blue Planet" with Kinnaird Elementary

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The objective of this week’s lesson was to discover just how precious our water resources are. We began the class by brainstorming the ways we use water everyday and listing all of the sources of clean water around us (the Columbia River! Blueberry Creek! Arrow Lake!). We then reviewed the concept of the Water Cycle and laughed about drinking the same water that dinosaurs drank. Finally, we looked at a picture of the Earth, taken from space, and agreed that the name “Blue Planet” is a pretty accurate description. Based on all of this, water seems to be all around us, so why should we consider it to be “precious”? Thus began a deeper investigation of this essential resource that we so often take for granted.

While 70% of our planet is indeed covered in the stuff, a whopping 97% of this is saltwater and therefore of no use for drinking, irrigation or household needs. Of the remaining 3% (freshwater), a mere fraction is readily available and clean! We ran through a fun demonstration to help us visualize this breakdown and were shocked to see the teeny, tiny drop that represented all of the clean, fresh drinking water available to us. We began to realize that water isn’t so easy to come by after all! While it may seem limitless to us in Canada, we learned that for many people in the world, clean water is an extremely precious resource.

We ran through another demonstration to introduce the class to global water issues. Small groups of students had to make water use decisions for their different communities, using very different water supplies. Some groups lived in an area of water abundance where fulfilling their water needs was EASY, while other groups faced a very limited water supply and had to make tough decisions about how to use their precious water. Yet another group had to deal with a contaminated water source, far from their village. This group was able to eventually fulfill most of their needs, but because their water was so dirty, were faced with water-related illness in their community.

All of a sudden, our water resources didn’t seem so limitless after all! We discussed the importance of conserving water and appreciating the value of clean drinking water. To finish up, the class was challenged to take ACTION at home to conserve water by taking the Shorter Shower Challenge. Students will measure the flow rate of their shower heads at home and then challenge family members to take shorter showers. We’ll then be able to see exactly how much water we can all save taking slightly shorter showers.