How Can We Provide Freshwater to Those in Need?

How Can We Provide Freshwater to Those in Need?

How Can We Provide Freshwater to Those in Need? is part of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, a new curriculum series by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It is aligned to a group of grade 5 standards. It has a focus on engineering design, with a secondary focus on Earth and space science. In this module, students:

  • Define the problem of human’s need for freshwater and the limited amount of freshwater available
  • Develop a model to show how human activities interact with components of the Earth’s system to cause groundwater pollution
  • Design, test, and evaluate different solutions for treating contaminated water
  • Use a digital simulation to design and test a solution to the problem of water scarcity
  • Communicate two perspectives on the causes and effects of an environmental crisis
  • Design, test, and evaluate a solution to pump, treat, and allocate water in a particular town

Below are digital resources that support teaching of this module. 

Lesson 1: H2GO

Water Matrix
This file shows images that highlight real-world freshwater issues, problem, solutions, and experiences.
Download the Water Matrix PDF

California Snowpack
This file shows California snowpack over a 3-year period.
Download the California Snowpack PDF

H2GO Criteria and Constraints
This file has criteria and constraints for the problem of moving water a short distance.
Download the H2Go Criteria and ConstraintsPDF

Lesson 2: Water Footprint

My Water Footprint Example
This file shows how to complete the My Water Footprint homework.
Download My Water Footprint Example PDF

Food Sources Water Footprint
This file shows the amount of water necessary to produce common food sources.
Download the Food Sources Water Footprint PDF

Lesson 3: Our Water Picture

Create a Graph
This website allows students to select a graph, input data, label, and share their findings.

Lesson 4: Water Scarcity Explored

Groundwater Video
This video can be found on Carolina Science Online at the link above. If you have purchased this module, you have an access code that should be activated as soon as possible. If you are having trouble finding your code or logging in, please contact

Earth’s Major Groundwater Reservoirs
This website shows all of the Earth’s major groundwater reservoirs.

Public Service Announcement Examples
This file shows examples of public service announcements.
Download the Public Service Announcement Examples PDF

Lesson 5: Water Pump

Water Pump Criteria and Constraints
This file has criteria and constraints for the problem of moving water upward.
Download the Water Pump Criteria and Consraints PDF

Lesson 7: Water Web

Profiles of Scientists
This website contains profiles of scientists.

History: Anacostia River – Back to the Future
This file describes the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum’s exhibition, Reclaiming the Edge: Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement.
Download the Anacostia River - Back to the Future PDF

Lesson 8: Clean the Water—Design It

What’s Inside a Water Filter?
This video shows the inside of a water filter.
Download the What's Inside a Water Filter Video

Arsenic in Pakistan Groundwater
This website contains an article that describes the problem of arsenic in the groundwater in Pakistan.


Lesson 10: Aquation

Play the web version of Aquation or download the game from this website to a device.

Aquation Basics
This file describes the basics of the Aquation game.
Download the Aquation Basics PDF

Aquation: Transferring Water and Wealth
This file describes how to transfer water and wealth in the Aquation game.
Download Aquation: Transferring Water and Wealth PDF

Lesson 11: Unintended Consequences—Read All About It!

Aral Sea Water Balance
This website gives the average annual water balances for the Aral Sea from 1926 to 1985.

Lesson 12: Unintended Consequences—Write All About It!

Today’s Front Pages
This website contains a gallery of today’s front pages from newspapers across the country.

Aral Sea Resources
This website provides a collection of maps, satellite images, and magazine articles about the Aral Sea.

History of the Aral Sea
This website contains an article that describes the history of the Aral Sea.

Lesson 13: Design Challenge—Water Ready?

Model for Summative Written Assessment Q2
This file contains a model to answer question #2 in the summative written assessment.
Download Model for Summative Written Assessment Q2 PDF

Stakeholder Descriptions
This file gives descriptions of stakeholders involved in the design challenge.
Download the Stakeholder Descriptions PDF

Lesson 15: Design Challenge—Live System Test

Preparing for a Water Emergency
This website describes how to prepare a water supply kit for an emergency.

Kit Tips & Tricks