“Lessons for Understanding Our Water Footprint” are a useful part of an environmental science curriculum. These high-school and undergraduate environmental science lessons build student awareness of direct and indirect (also known as virtual) water use . Three free, downloadable lessons encourage students to explore how their food choices and shopping habits have a larger impact on their daily water consumption than they may realize. Designed for high school – upper secondary level, ages 15 to 18 – these interactive lessons can be easily adapted to the undergraduate level.
Environmental Science Curriculum: High-School and Undergraduate Lesson Plans
Through free, interactive environmental science lessons, students learn why understanding our water footprint and conserving water resources is so important.
Lesson 1: Water Resources and Water Footprints
In the first environmental science lesson, students gain an in-depth understanding of key water issues. They learn about water resources and water footprints, then use the water calculator to analyze their direct and virtual water consumption. Students get a foundation of knowledge and learn why they should care about protecting water resources, which makes it easier for them to make a fundamental shift in attitude about their water use.
Lesson Plan 1
Session 1: How Do We Use Water?
- Water Resources and Water Footprints Presentation (PDF)
- Water Resources and Water Footprints Teacher’s Notes (PDF)
Session 2: How Do I Use Water?
- My Water Footprint Stats Student Worksheet (PDF)
- My Water Footprint Stats Sample Answers [For Teachers] (PDF)
- Basic Rubric (PDF)
- Participation Checklist (PDF)
Lesson 2: My Water Footprint
In the next environmental science lesson, students are encouraged to articulate and share the concept of a water footprint. Then they investigate the impact of their food consumption habits on water resources and their virtual water use and begin thinking about how their diet is influenced by systems outside of themselves, such as social groups, advertising, and the structures in place at home and at school.
Lesson Plan 2
- Food’s Water Footprint Research Cards (PDF)
- Food’s Water Footprint: Mini-Lesson Team Rubric (PDF)
- Food’s Water Footprint: Mini-Lesson Group Evaluation (PDF)
Lesson 3: The Value of a Water Footprint
In the final environmental science lesson, students are empowered to take action. First, they investigate how the products they buy impact water resources and their virtual water footprint. Then they devise a plan to reduce their personal water footprint. Next, they work together to evaluate their school campus. Finally, they create a Strategic Action Plan to reduce the school’s water footprint and work in groups to get the necessary permissions to enact a water-saving plan for the campus.
Lesson Plan 3
Session 1: Saving Water at Home
- Direct and Virtual Water Use Game Cards (PDF)
- How to Save Water Infographic Poster (PDF)
- How to Save Water Education Campaign Worksheet (PDF)
- My Saving Water Game Plan (PDF)
Session 2: Saving Water on Campus
- School Water Audit: Direct Water Use (PDF)
- School Water Audit: Virtual Water Use (PDF)
- Water Footprint School Project Rubric (PDF)
- Water Footprint School Project Group Evaluation (PDF)
- Participation Checklist (PDF)
Find the middle-school version of these lessons here and check out our other teacher resources. Also find our lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers.