The Ultimate Commons: Examining The Connection Between Ways of Life And Waterways

Laura Thrash, Science, Whitewater Middle

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


In this unit students will explore how water shapes our world, and in turn, how their actions shape water. By examining the cascading consequences of their own water “ways” from what they drink, to what they flush, to what they throw away, students will realize that the impacts of small choices are far reaching. The unit is split into two parts: “The Water We Drink,” and “The Water That Connects Us.” While “The Water We Drink” focuses on water quality, accessibility, treatment, and legislation, “The Water That Connects Us” concerns the migration of water from rivers to marine ecosystems and how our actions in river basins impact both. To connect and engage students both units are framed through a storytelling lens that leverages inquiry to sequentially build. First, students will come to see themselves as characters with something at stake. Next, they will investigate issues that highlight a disconnect between what they learn is right and what they see in practice. Finally, during a unit capstone students partner with local organizations to brainstorm solutions that can change the narrative of their local water systems and the lives those systems support.