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Water Quality Program Resources

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Novelized non-fiction
Grades: 6-8
Lexile Level: 720L

Selected because: 
Two stories told in parallel: the primary narrative of a boy driven from home by civil war in Sudan and a supporting tale of a girl who spends the entirety of her day walking to a distant water source twice, until the boy of the primary narrative (now a man) builds a well in her village. Though the primary narrative isn't explicitly about water, lack of water resources and the challenges of water are interwoven in the tale. In the supporting story, lack of good water is explained as the root of conflict, disease, and no time for education. Themes of perseverance and taking action to help others prevail. 

Suggested activities:
Students record daily water use for a week, tracking which activities need to have clear, purified water, which clear water, and which could use muddy water. Calculate the volume of water used in a day, and determine the weight of that water. "My Water Footprint" by Project WET is an excellent and similar activity. 

Where does the water for the school come from, and what has to happen for it to come out of our taps? Visit a water treatment facility either in person or virtually. 

This book lends itself to an excellent action project for a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience unit: raising funds to provide clean drinking water for an at risk population. Specifically, the author recommends Water for South Sudan, however there are many quality projects all over the world. Ideas for raising money are in the back of the book. 

Additional activities suggested at the Water for South Sudan website. We particularly like the Two-Voice Poem (PDF) module. 

The Water Princess by Susan Verde and Georgie Badie, lIllustrator Peter H. Reynolds
non-fiction
Grades: K-3
Lexile Level: 480L

Selected because: 
This book parallels the partner story in A Long Walk to Water, that of Nya. The bright imagery and simpler language make it accessible for a wide range of learners. 

Suggested activities:
Learn more about water access issues across the world. Create a short story (or comic) from the first person perspective of someone facing these challenges that can be shared with younger students. 

Identify organizations working to bring clean water to populations without access. Students brainstorm a way to support an organizations mission. 

https://www.fairfaxwater.org/comics
STEAM Team Adventure #4 - Water Ninjas and the Mystery of the Potomac by Fairfax Water
fictionalized science
Grades: 5-9
Lexile Level: Not Available

Selected because: 
The graphic novel/comic format is appealing to some readers for whom heavy text is daunting. This online format is accessible without purchase. This slightly fantastic story introduces the problem of turbidity, examines sources for the pollutant, and includes an action piece. 

Suggested activities:
Explore turbidity by placing a constant quantity of tap water into a CLEAR container and reading text through the bottom. Measure and add a small quantity of sediment, stir, and attempt to read the text. Be sure to record quantities and observations. Continue to add sediment in increments until the text is unreadable. 

Devise a filter to clean turbid water. Engineer (design, test, refine) the most efficient filter possible (produces the most, cleanest water). 

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss illustrated by Rosemary Woods
non- fiction
Grades: 3-7
Lexile Level: Not Available

Selected because: 
An excellent kickoff for a water unit, this book covers the water cycle, distribution of water in different forms and bodies, use of water by plants, animals, and humans, pollution impacts on water and water conservation. 

Suggested activities:
Project Wet A Drop in a Bucket clearly illustrates how much freshwater is actually accessible. 

Multiple pages in this book connect to other recommended reading. For example, page 21 has an excellent graphic depicting water use by humans in different areas and could be used in partnership with A Long Walk to Water and The Water Princess. Prior to reading one of the other stories, examine the related page in One Well. Refer back to that page while reading, and use sticky notes to add supporting information. 

Conduct a schoolyard watershed assessment. There are many schoolyard report cards online (like this PDF from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation) that can be adapted to focus on how the land could influence water. Identify problem areas and suggest improvements. 


I Am the Rain by John Paterson
non- fiction
Grades: Preschool - 3rd
Lexile Level: AD470L

Selected because: 
Excellent picturebooks are accessible to all readers. Though the supporting information at the back of this book focuses on the water cycle, the provocative text and beautiful images encourage the reader to reflect deeply on all of the ways that water touches us.

Suggested activities:
Prior to engaging in water quality testing, use this book as a hook for students. Conduct a read-aloud (even with middle schoolers), and then have students brainstorm additional ways that they interact with water and create an "I Am the Rain" statement about one of those interactions. 

After water quality testing, select one of the "I Am the Rain" statements (When springtime comes I melt away and run into a creek. Waiting, I'm the ocean bay that searching rivers seek) and have students describe what would be different if one or more of the abiotic parameters were altered. 

Develop a deeper sense of the watershed by having students use pins or stickynotes to identify places in their watershed where each of the "I Am the Rain" statements could take place.