Where’s the Water? (FBCEC)


Water is a renewable yet limited resource. Participants will consider where water comes from and why conservation is important. Groundwater models help investigate the structure of aquifers and visualize how humans impact the water supply.

Grade Level:

7 - 12

Recommended Setting:

Indoor or outdoor classroom

Outdoor Activity:



Fred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR


Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484


1 - 2 hours

Suggested Number of Participants:

Up to 15


  • Understand that water is a limited resource and should be conserved.
  • Learn ways each human can conserve water.
  • Understand the complexities of the water cycle.
  • Recognize the potential human impact upon groundwater.

Key Terms*:




*See glossary for definations


  • Materials for Project WET’s “A Drop in the Bucket:”
    • 10 ml graduated cylinder
    • 100 ml graduated cylinder
    • 1,000 ml graduated cylinder
    • 1,000 ml of water
    • Aluminum pie pan
    • Eyedropper
    • Inflatable Earth ball
  • Materials for Project WET’s “The Incredible Journey:”
    • Dry erase board to show example of a journey
    • Index cards
    • Labeled dice or spinners
    • Labels for the nine stations
  • Materials for groundwater model activity:
    • Food dye
    • Groundwater model
    • Water


Fresh water is vital to human survival. Even though 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, very little is fresh water. Much of the fresh water is either frozen in icecaps and glaciers or in aquifers too deep under ground to be pumped out. While the water cycle recharges freshwater supplies with precipitation, it is possible to use or pollute the water supplies faster than the cycle can renew them.


  1. Demonstrate “A Drop in the Bucket” from the Project WET curriculum guide, which illustrates the percentage of water available for human use and the need for conservation.
  2. Follow with “The Incredible Journey,” also from Project WET. Participants will play the role of a water molecule as it moves through the water cycle.
  3. Remind participants that most of the Earth’s fresh water is under ground. Use a groundwater model to show the structure of aquifers, how they are recharged and the effect of drawing from wells. Discuss ways people use water and the significance of increased supply to growing populations. Also demonstrate how pollution (food dye) can enter the aquifer and becomes ”everyone’s problem.” Note the formation of underground plumes of pollution and how it spreads through the aquifer, reaching other wells as well as surface water.


  • Ask participants to estimate the amount of water their household uses in one day. An average American family of four uses approximately 350 gallons a day. Discuss (perhaps list on a marker board) the household uses for water. Ask how their family (or the participant) can conserve water. Should they? Will they?
  • To challenge participants, have them write a list or paragraph describing how their lives would be affected if two liters (about ½ gallon) of water per day were all that was available to each family member. Then go play in the creek!


  • List and describe the main processes in the water cycle.
  • Explain why so little fresh water, relatively speaking, is available for humans.
  • List at least six ways the participants’ families can conserve water.
  • How can the participant help prevent water pollution?
  • Explain why one person’s actions regarding water quality are “everybody’s business.”



Aquifer – An underground layer of permeable rock or soil that yields water


Conservation – planned management of natural resources (including wildlife and habitat) to prevent exploitation or neglect and to ensure their availability to future generations


Renewable – able to be sustained indefinitely, either because of inexhaustible supplies or because of new growth