Water Is Cool!

6, 7, 8

Through observation of the water cycle, we discuss the importance of water as a nonrenewable resource. Why is being a good steward of this resource an example of acting for the Common Good?

PrintOne 50-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • explain why water is a nonrenewable resource.
  • explain why it is important to be a good steward of water and how this relates to the Common Good.
  • a bucket that holds about 9.5 liters (2.5 gallons)
  • one eyedropper
  • one permanent marker
  • 8 clear plastic cups
  • one 1000 mL beaker

The Earth is a closed system and water is recycled over and over throughout the life of the Earth. If we throw bottles of liquid in landfills, is that liquid ever recycled?


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Have the learners do a quick write, considering each of the following questions, then have a few volunteers share their thoughts. How much of the Earth’s surface is made of water? (about 70%). How much of your body is made of water? (About 70%) Why is clean water important? (All living things depend on it.)

  2. Ask the following questions: If we were to consider all of the water on the Earth, what percentage do you think is readily available for human use? Why do we need more freshwater? Where is most of the Earth’s freshwater located?

    Then share the information on the handout below Water on Earth.

  3. Explain that water is considered a nonrenewable resource. All water that is present on the Earth, in all forms – solid, liquid, and gas, has been here since the beginning of time. It is all that we will ever have. It continues to recycle. If we do not take care of our water resources, all life on Earth will suffer.

  4. Model the distribution of water on the Earth with the materials below and the handout with the amounts.

  5. Materials for demonstration model:

    • a bucket that holds about 9.5 liters (2.5 gallons)
    • one eyedropper
    • one permanent marker
    • 8 clear plastic cups
    • one 1000 mL beaker
  6. Use the 1,000 mL beaker to fill the bucket with 10,000 mL of water. This represents all the water on the Earth.

  7. Using the permanent marker, label each cup with a different name from the following list:

    1. Icecaps/ glaciers
    2. Groundwater
    3. Freshwater lakes
    4. Great Lakes
    5. Saltwater Lakes/seas
    6. Atmosphere
    7. Rivers
    8. Unaccounted for
  8. Using the 100 mL cylinder and dropper, fill the cups according to the handout with the amounts representing their percentage on Earth.

  9. The water that remains in the bucket represents all of the water in the Earth’s oceans. 

  10. Allow time for the learners to answer each question on the handout after the demonstration. Discuss their answers.

  11. Define and discuss the term Common Good. It Involves individual citizens having the commitment and motivation to promote the welfare of the community (even if they must sacrifice their own time, personal preferences or money) to work together with other members for the greater benefit of all.

    For example, if families in your neighborhood work to clean up a vacant lot and plant it with flowers to create a neighborhood garden, everyone in the community would benefit from the garden.

  12. Share a model of the water cycle online or by building a terrarium to observe the closed system. Discuss why we should take care of our water resources for the common good?

  13. Have the learners conduct a survey of their community to determine the conditions of local water supplies. They may plot these on a map and add notes about water quality, sources, and movement. They may propose a plan in collaboration with a nonprofit to clean a water source that is polluted.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.13 Describe how philanthropy can reallocate limited resources to meet human needs.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify and research public or social issues in the community, nation or the world related to the common good. Form an opinion, and develop and present a persuasive argument using communication tools.