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How Do We Use Water?

Author(s): Nancy P. Moreno, PhD, Barbara Z. Tharp, MS, and Judith Dresden, MS.

Let's Talk About It

Ask student groups to share water uses they recorded in their journals. Then, have each group make a list of all the different water uses discussed (OR, have each student in the class contribute one or two uses that he or she recorded and list all students’ answers on the board). 

Next, have the students divide these water uses into two categories: “Uses Important for Health” and “Other Uses.” Encourage student discussion over the placement of a water use into one category or the other. 

Emphasize that some uses of water are essential for life, while others are not. Essential uses include: using water to sanitize dishes, cook food and brush our teeth. We also need to drink water to stay healthy. Non-essential uses are involved in many daily tasks, such as washing the car, and watering flower gardens and lawns (since we do not use those plants for food). Sometimes, we use too much water even when doing an essential task, such as when we leave the water running while brushing our teeth or take an overly long shower. 

This information can initiate a class discussion about what is really essential. For instance, why might it be important to water flowers even if they don’t produce food? 

As a class or group activity, have students create a new list, “Ideas for Saving Water.” Share all ideas with the class and display the “Ideas for Saving Water” list in a central location in the classroom. As an extension, have each group create a colorful poster illustrating one of its ideas.


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Numbers: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932


Houston Endowment Inc.

Houston Endowment Inc.

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