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Water Works

The following lesson includes recommendations for adding an additional layer of difficulty for more advanced classes.

Objective: Explore the role that engineering and science play in clean drinking water.

Materials: river, lake, or tap water that has been “dirtied” with sand, pencil shavings, etc.; funnel or empty soda bottle with the wide end cut off; cotton ball; one cup each of sand and gravel; one empty cup; Water Works Student Worksheet 1

Time required:
40 minutes

Getting Started:

1. Place the cap on the soda bottle or use a piece of tape to block the end of the funnel. Insert the following into the funnel in this order:  

a. Cotton ball (wedge into the thinnest part of the funnel or bottle)
b. Layer of sand
c. Layer of gravel

2. Show students the dirty water. Ask: Does this look like water that comes out of our faucet? (No) Explain that this is what water looks like before it has been cleaned and filtered for drinking.

3. Remove the funnel’s cap and slowly pour the water over the top of the gravel layer. Watch the dirty water slowly filter through the layers and catch the “cleaned” water in the empty cup.

4. Explain that this Water Works program will allow students to learn how water is pumped out of the ground, filtered and cleaned, and then delivered to homes and businesses.

Using the Student Worksheet:

5. Distribute Water Works Student Worksheet 1 and read it together.

6. Discuss the filtration process and complete the writing assignment. Consider watching the video Water and You: The Treatment Process at www.scholastic.com/njaw.

7. Explain: All life on Earth needs water to survive. It’s constantly being used and then recycled through a process known as the water cycle.

8. Review the water cycle and/or watch the video Water and You: The Water Cycle at www.scholastic.com/njaw.


9. Build a model water system with your  class! Review the Build a Model Water System instructions within this program and complete Step 1.



Photos: water © Shutterstock

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