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How to Teach World Water Day

Water bottles, drinking fountains, toilet trips and hand washing – in manyschools, it is easy to take clean water for granted.

Yet the United Nations estimates that at least 780 million people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water – more than 2.5 times the population of America.

Water and energy is the theme of this year's World Water Day, celebrated on 22 March. We've collected some useful lesson resources and ideas to help you remind students that clean water is one of the most basic – and precious – resources on earth.

The charity WaterAid has a variety of materials for primary and secondary students. Water around the world is a lesson pack for upper primary that explores how water is used in the home, how it could be saved, and how this compares with other countries where clean water is harder to come by.

For secondary students, Women and water is a lesson pack about the role that women and children play in collecting water in countries including Ghana and Tanzania. Students consider how a lack of clean water and sanitation would affect their lives and they use case studies to explore what life is like in the Kamla Nehru Nagar urban slum in India.

Suitable for all levels, Pumping it up is an experiment that shows how underground water is brought to the surface. Coming back to you is an activity in which pupils build a model of the water cycle in a jar and there's a water diary to help students track how much water they use.

Mission: Explore Water is a cross-curricular resource containing 51 missions that challenge learners to discover, explore and think about water in new ways. Suitable for all stages, ideas include: composing a song about the ways we use water; writing a story about an imagined journey from the source of a river to its mouth; making a water filter; and investigating how far the nearest source of fresh water is from your school.

The theme of World Water Day 2014 is water and energy, so take a fun look at how the water we flush down the toilet can be used to generate electricity with this resource from Yorkshire Water. Entitled Poo Power, the lesson pack explores how biogas can be collected during the treatment of waste water. This gas – likened to "the farting of millions of tiny bugs within the waste" – can then be used to power the machinery that is needed to treat the sewage. Ideas include drawing a cartoon strip about a day in the life of poo or choreographing a drama sequence to show the travel of poo to electricity. Students may well be amused to know that it takes the poo of 100,000 people to generate 51kw of electricity, enough for 500 light bulbs. Older students can assess the potential for faeces as an energy source for the future.

Learn more about different sources of energy with this information booklet and workbook from SSE. The resources have been created to help primary students understand energy, how it is produced, how it gets to us, and how to use it wisely. Questions include: how can we generate energy from water, and what are two ways to save water in the house? These ideas are explored further in Green Stuff, SSE's magazine for nine to 11-year-olds.

Challenge secondary students to find out about the increasing demand and competition for the world's water supply and energy resources withsome key facts and figures from the United Nations. Distribute pages nine and 10 of the document among groups and ask them to create an infographic to display some of the statistics. Based on their research andon the information contained in this UN briefing, can students explain what is meant by the World Water Day slogan: Saving energy is saving water and saving water is saving energy?

Finally, WaterAid is running a poetry competition for World Water Day. Poems should be themed around water and must not exceed 30 lines in length. Find out more in these lesson plans for primary and secondarystudents. The winning school will receive a workshop and performance by poet and composer Martin Kiszko. The deadline for entries is Friday 24 May.




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