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Feature: Bill Gates Wants to Reinvent Toilets

africaEngineering researchers who toil in the field of sanitation, especially sanitation for the world’s poorest citizens, used to find that their field carried about as much cachet as a fly-ridden latrine. Not anymore. In July, 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced eight grants totaling $3 million for university engineering projects to “Reinvent the Toilet.”

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Lesson: Tippy Tap Hand-Washer

tippyIn this service-learning activity, teams of students in grades 10-12 learn the basic principles of fluid dynamics by designing and testing a prototype system to pipe water from a storage tank to a Tippy Tap hand-washing station similar to inexpensive homemade devices used extensively in the developing world.

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Feature: Tsunami Waves’ Destructive Power

Tsunami Hits MiyakoWater is surprisingly heavy, and, when in motion, it can kill. The tsunami that hit Northern Japan on Friday is an eye-opening example of the power water can have—and the devastation it can bring. “It’s basically like a hundred tanks coming across you,” oceanography professor Philip Froelich says.

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Lesson: Harvest Water from Fog

Cape VerdeIn this lesson from the Peace Corps, students in grades 4-12 learn how harvesting water from fog can help people who have limited access to fresh water. They study the water challenges in Cape Verde, and the technology and benefits of fog water collectors. They then build and evaluate a own working model.

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Lesson: Hydrogen — Electrolysis of Water

WaterThis lesson engages students in grades 6-8 in an electrolysis activity separating hydrogen and oxygen to help them understand how hydrogen is created to be used as an energy source.

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Lesson: Sand and Water

Sand CastleIf you’re fortunate enough to live near a beach or sandy banks or dunes, this sand-castle construction lesson from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve will both instruct and entertain, helping your students understand the cohesive force of water tension and the adhesive force of capillary action.

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Students Converge to Talk Water

Children Get Fresh Water from the US NavyThree rivers run through Pittsburgh, so it is blessed with an abundance of potable water. But 3 billion people across the globe, nearly half the world’s population, don’t have ready access to fresh water. That was the lesson driven home to 550 high school students at a recent daylong tutorial sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

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Website: The Water Cycle


As part of its material on global change and Virginia watersheds, the Science Museum of Virigina presents “The Water Cycle,” describing the movement of water, and linking to an animation from the Environmental Protection Agency. See also the helpful glossary of terms.

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Website: Running Dry – Water Awareness


The Running Dry Website offers a number of helpful resources for educators, including: background information, classroom activities, “ten ways to save water,” and “more tips on saving water,” and a list of online resources.

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