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

Why Is Water So Important?

Water is essential for all life on our planet. People need water every day to keep their bodies healthy and clean, and to do many other things. 

Water has many uses for individuals and the community—from brushing teeth, to washing dishes, running automobiles, growing vegetables, manufacturing paper and machinery, and generating electricity. We even use water for recreation! However, while Earth’s population and the demand for water continue to grow, the planet’s supply of usable fresh water remains fixed. So we must use water wisely.

Water constantly is used and reused as it is circulates through the natural water cycle. Unfortunately, the same unique properties that make water vital for all life also make it susceptible to contamination. Nutrients, soils and sediments, chemicals, heavy metals and disease-causing organisms all can be dissolved in, or mixed with water through human activities. Pollution from these sources can harm human health and cause irreparable damage to valuable ecosystems. The best way to keep water supplies clean is through prevention.

In this activity, students will review (individually or collectively) the role of water in their lives and reach some conclusions regarding the importance of clean water to human health.


  1. For the post-assessment, lead a class discussion of water pollution and the importance of water to health. Have the students suggest different ways in which water impacts human health (both positive and negative). List their suggestions on the board or on an overhead projector.

  2. Explain to students that they will be drawing (or, with older students, writing about) what they consider the most important aspects of water for health. Explain that they may consider anything they have learned over the course of the unit, and that they may include both negative and positive impacts of water and water pollution on health.

  3. Have students fold a sheet of paper into fourths and draw an important health-related aspect of water in each box. Have older students also write a sentence or paragraph explaining the significance of each drawing. If students have kept journals through the entire unit, their new drawings and paragraphs can be added to the journals.


    Have the students work in groups. Give each group a large piece of butcher paper and let students divide it into four sections. Have groups decide on the uses of water they will depict in their “water and health murals.” 

  4. Display the drawings or murals around the classroom. Let each student or group share their work with the rest of the class.

  5. Distribute a copy of the post-assessment to each student. Have students complete the assessment individually or within their groups. 

  6. Give each student his or her completed pre-assessment from Activity 1. Ask, Did your answers to some of the questions change? Have each student identify any question(s) that he or she answered differently on the post-assessment, and write one or two sentences explaining why he or she selected the different answer. 

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