Put Some Blue In Your Green School

Bridget Cameron and Linda Ruiz McCall
Texas Water Development Board


Put Some Blue In Your Green School is a service learning project to help schools become efficient water users and to raise awareness about the need for good stewardship practices for water resources within the community.

In this project, students will:

  • Analyze the water use (indoor/outdoor) at their school
  • Work with community partners to raise awareness about the need to conserve water
  • Enact behavioral and structural changes to conserve water
Note: This activity is designed as a framework to provide guidance and resources for the instructor. It is expected that the activity will be adapted to serve the needs of the students and community partners.

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This service learning project is targeted to high school science students in courses such as Earth and Space Science, AP Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Aquatic Science. Community partners will vary for each school and may include the school's water service provider, parents, school and/or community service clubs, college students, state and federal government agencies, and businesses.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Water Basics:

Students and community partners who engage in this project must have an understanding of the basics of water science and policy.

Current Water Planning Challenges:

For Texas, students should be familiar with the Texas State Water Plan projections for their region. Reading the Texas state water plan, Water for Texas.

For locations outside of Texas, students should be familiar with water planning projections for their area.

How the activity is situated in the course

Put Some Blue In Your Green School is a challenge activity within the Texas Water Development Board's new high school curriculum, Water Exploration http://www.twdb.texas.gov/publications/reports/contracted_reports/doc/0904830856_WaterExploration.pdf. Water Exploration, is a Web-based education program which challenges students to conduct research and build an understanding about water science and critical water-related issues.

The curriculum was developed by the Institute for Geophysics in the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, Texas teachers, and the Texas Water Development Board. Dr. Katherine Ellins of the University of Texas Institute of Geophysics is the primary investigator for the project.

All Water Exploration learning activities are packaged into three "Legacy Cycle" units which are designed to help students learn how scientists approach problem solving. These legacy cycles include;

  • Water Basics
  • Water-Earth Interactions, and
  • People Need Water

The Put Some Blue in Your Green School is part of the People Need Water Legacy Cycle.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Essential Questions:

  1. How do you use water at home? At school?
  2. How does your school use water both indoors and outdoors?
  3. How does your school's water use vary during the school year?
  4. What products or materials in your school do not use water directly, but consume water in being production?
  5. Why is water conservation important?
  6. What is a water audit?
  7. What types of water saving technologies and equipment are currently available?
  8. How do innovative technologies and water reuse help conserve water?
  9. What behavior changes can you make at home and in your daily life to conserve water ?
  10. How can your school be an example for water conservation in your community?

Correlation to Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills

  • 112.44. Environmental Systems

    (3) Scientific processes. The student uses critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and problem solving to make informed decisions within and outside the classroom. The student is expected to:

    (3a) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing.

    (3b) make responsible choices in selecting everyday products and services using scientific information.

    (5) Science concepts. The student knows the interrelationships among the resources within the local environmental system. The student is expected to:

    (5b) identify source, use, quality, and conservation of water.

    (5f) evaluate the impact of waste management methods such as, reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting on resource availability.

  • 112.XX. Earth and Space Science

    (2) Scientific processes. The student uses scientific methods during laboratory and field investigations. The student is expected to:

    (2a) plan and implement both short- and long-term investigations employing procedures that include asking questions, selecting equipment and technology, formulating testable hypotheses, testing the hypotheses, and reaching reliable conclusions.

    (2b) demonstrate use of a wide variety of apparatuses, equipment, techniques, and procedures, such as satellite imagery and other remote sensing data, GIS, GPS, computer, probeware, microscopes, telescopes, and others for collecting quantitative and qualitative data.

    (2c) organize, analyze, evaluate, make inferences, and predict trends from data.

    (2d) use mathematical procedures such as algebra, statistics, scientific notation, and significant figures to analyze data.

    (2e) communicate valid conclusions using several formats, such as technical reports, presentations, and technical posters.

Earth Science Literacy Principles

  • Big Idea #7: Humans Depend on Earth for Resources

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Use knowledge to solve real-world problems:

  • Students collect and analyze data from school water use statements, estimated water loss due to leaks, school population, and school facility maps.
  • Students evaluate findings and make recommendations for actions to reduce school water use.

Other skills goals for this activity

  • Use communications skills to present findings and recommendations to the community and engage them in taking action to conserve water
  • Students will research water efficiency technologies and methods (including behavior changes) and develop and present action plans to an authentic audience.
  • Students will find and recruit actions teams including community volunteers.

Description of the activity/assignment

Water conservation teams will perform a school water audit to determine how much water the school uses (indoors and outdoors), what activities and behaviors contribute to water loss and waste, and what changes could be enacted to conserve water at their school.

In this service learning project, students will collaborate in teams and with community partners to:
  • Collect data from existing sources such as past water bills, campus census data, and school facility maps
  • Measure school water use (indoors/outdoor) and make "field" observations by performing the 7-Step School Water Audit
  • Analyze data, formulate problem statements, and make recommendations for action plans to improve water efficiency
  • Create an extended abstract or poster for the project
  • Present the project to an authentic audience of students, teachers, school administrators, water supply entities and other community partners
  • Make real-world changes to conserve water

Determining whether students have met the goals

Individual assessment:

Have the students keep a journal during the service learning project in order for them to reflect on their learning, make connections from their classroom experience to real world problems, and to assess their individual learning. Journal entries should ask how the student feels about the project and why, how they feel their service has impacted the community, and what future service/learning they are interested in exploring.

Group assessment:

A rubric for the project (Microsoft Word 29kB Feb7 10) is included and should be presented to the students and community partners and modified as needed to establish the expectations and goals of the project.

Click image to enlarge.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

"Water IQ: Know Your Water" is a statewide public awareness water conservation program that educates Texans about water conservation.

Guiding questions and vocabulary resources (accessed 2/7/10)

Water Resources Planning and Information (WRPI) supports the Texas Water Development Board's mission by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating water-related data and by providing other services necessary to aid in planning and managing the state's water resources .