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Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Barbara Tharp, MS.

How Do We Use Water? (cont.)


  • Each person needs 8–10 cups (2.5 quarts) of water each day for health. 
  • Americans each use about 183 gallons of water each day for cooking, washing, flushing and watering. 
  • Most home water use is in the bathroom. 
  • 4,000 gallons of water are needed to produce one bushel of corn.
  • It takes 1,400 gallons of water to produce a meal of a hamburger, French fries and a soft drink.
  • 39,000 gallons of water are required to produce an automobile.

Day 1: How do you use Water?

  1. Open a short discussion by asking students to list ways that people use water every day. Some uses might include: washing, drinking, cooking, watering plants, etc.

  2. Pass out one copy of the “Water Use Journal” sheet to each student. Explain that students will be investigating how they use water for the Have students take their sheets home. Specify the period of time during which they should record their water use (for example, from the moment they leave the classroom until the moment they return; from the time they arrive home until the time they leave home in the morning; etc.)

Day 2: What are essential uses of water? 

  1. Divide classes of older students into groups of 3 to 4. Have each group discuss and compile a list of the uses of water that they reported in their journals. With younger students, conduct this session as a full class activity. Ask each student to contribute one of the uses of water that he or she recorded. List the uses on the board

  2. Ask, How many uses of water on your list (or on the list on the board) help you stay healthy? Have each group divide the water uses on its list into two categories: “Uses Important for Health,” and “Other Uses.” With younger students, create the same categories and lists on the board.

  3. Have each group share its list of uses with the rest of the class. Encourage discussion of the students’ ideas. Now, present each group with a new challenge. Ask, In how many of these uses could you save water without affecting your health? Have each group revisit its list and create a new list of “Ideas for Saving Water.” Let each group share its ideas.

  4. Display the “Ideas for Saving Water” in a central place in the classroom. If desired, 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

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education