Water Is Important
“How can there be any reconciliation in a country where this kind of inequality is acceptable?” – Shoal Lake 40 Chief Erwin Redsky
The percentage of the human body that is water ranges from 50% to 75%. The average adult is 50% to 65% water. Infants are approximately 75% water. The percentage of the human body that is water declines with age. We need to replenish our bodies with safe drinking water. Sometimes there are contaminants in the water and that causes a Boil Water Advisory to be called. Sometimes the contaminants cannot be removed through boiling and, therefore, a Do Not Use Advisory is issued instead. One First Nations community has been under a Boil Water Advisory for over 23 years! As of 2018, 73 First Nations communities are under a long-term Boil Water Advisory, this means that they have been under a Boil Water Advisory for one year or longer.
Lesson 5: Water Is Important
Grade: K-2 (Science, Social Studies, Health, Art)
Topic: Learning that water is important, that we are composed partly of water, and learning about Boil Water Advisories
Time: 60 minutes
Space requirement: Classroom
Materials: Smart board or computer and projector, plain white paper, crayons or pencil crayons or markers, four graduated cylinders or water bottles that show how much water is in the bottle or other containers that measure the amount of water (preferably one litre size) – one filled 75% full of water (750 mL if using 1 L container), one filled 65% full of water (650 mL if using 1 L container), one filled 60% full of water (600 mL if using 1L container), and one filled 55% full of water (550 mL if using 1 L container), photocopies of the What Can You Do During a Boil Water Advisory Activity, chart paper and marker or whiteboard and dry erase marker.
Objectives: Students will learn that water is important and that part of their body is water. They will also learn about Boil Water Advisories, Do Not Consume Orders, and Do Not Use Orders including when these are called and the great number of them in First Nations communities.
Keywords: Percentage, Boil Water Advisory, Do Not Consume Order, Do Not Use Order, First Nations Community, Contaminants
1. Start by asking the students to name some activities for which people use water during the day (washing hands, brushing teeth, drinking water, food preparation, etc.). Write the students’ responses on chart paper or the whiteboard to refer back to, to emphasize the importance of water in our daily lives. Ask the students where the water goes when they drink water. (Answer: you put the water in your mouth, it travels down the esophagus, it reaches the stomach, in the stomach if you have eaten food it gets absorbed into the food, in the stomach if you have not eaten food then the water mixes with stomach acids, the water is later passed to the intestine, the water is later absorbed by different organs for different purposes, later on the water from the bloodstream is filtered by the kidneys and useful water and ions are absorbed).
2. Start by going over the Water Is Important PowerPoint with the students. This PowerPoint will ask students to guess answers to questions. It also includes a link to a video that is approximately two minutes in length and will inform students about how much water is in the human body in a memorable way.
3. Show the students the four containers of water and explain to them that the graduated cylinder/other container that is 75% full of water represents the percentage of water in an infant, that the one that is 65% full of water represents the percentage of water in a child (like them!), that the one that is 60% full of water represents the percentage of water in an adult male, and that the one that is 55% full of water represents the percentage of water in an adult female. You can give examples of people who would be in these categories (you, them, their parents, their siblings, etc.).
4. Have the students draw a picture of themselves and colour the percentage of themselves that is water blue (like on slide 4 of the Water Is Important PowerPoint, but just one person – themselves). Students who can write can title this “Percentage of Me That Is Water”.
5. Have students discuss what their lives would be like if they lived in a First Nations community (or other community, like a rural community) where there is always a Boil Water Advisory in place – what would be more difficult in their lives? How would their lives change? Remind students of the list they made during step 1 – the list of activities they need water for during the day, read the list to the students.
Alternatively: If you live in a First Nations community (or another community, like a rural community) where there is no safe drinking water, then have students discuss what it would be like to have safe drinking water – what would be easier in their lives? How would their lives change?
6. Have students draw a picture of what it would be like and how they would feel if they lived in a First Nations/other community where there is no safe drinking water. Students who can write can title this “If We Didn’t Have Safe Water”.
Alternatively: If you live in a First Nations/other community where there is no safe drinking water, then have students draw a picture of what it would be like and how they would feel if they had safe drinking water. Students who can write can title this “If We Had Safe Water”.
7. Have students Complete the What Can You Do During a Boil Water Advisory Activity.
8. Have students draw a picture of water in their lives (this will depend on their community’s situation). Students who can write can title this “Water In My Life”
Evaluation: Can be based on their participation in answering questions during the PowerPoint presentation and during the discussion, and the three pictures they draw.
Drinking water advisories. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-indicators/drinking-water-advisories.html
Ending long-term drinking water advisories in First Nation communities. (2018). Retrieved from www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1506514143353/1533317130660
How is tap water treated, and what causes a boil-water advisory? (2016). Retrieved from https://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/questions/how-is-tap-water-treated-and-what-causes-a-boil-water-advisory
How Much of Your Body Is Water? (2018). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-much-of-your-body-is-water-609406
How much Water is in the Human Body? Fact – 5. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNxMJdrjGxY
How to Use Water Safely During a Boil Water Advisory. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/wf/eph/wf-eph-boil-water-advisory-water-home-safety.pdf