Water Is Important
“No child should grow up not knowing what clean water is, or never knowing what running water is.” – Autumn Peltier
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 body 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. Neskantaga First Nation in Ontario 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. To learn more about long-term drinking water advisories in First Nation communities please visit www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1506514143353/1533317130660.
Lesson 4: Water Is Important
Grade: 3-5 (Science, Social Studies, Health, English Language Arts, Mathematics)
Topic: Learning that water is important, that we are composed partly of water, and learning about Boil Water Advisories
Time: 90 minutes
Space requirement: Classroom
Materials: Smartboard or computer and projector, crayons or pencil crayons or markers, lined paper, pencils or pens, graph/grid paper, 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).
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.). 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 while excess and toxic water is expelled).
2. Go 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 five minutes in length and will inform students about how much water is in the human body in a memorable way, how much water is in different parts of the body, and the consequences of drinking too little or too much water.
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 on graph/grid paper (ask them to make themselves take up the majority of the space on the graph/grid paper), count/approximate the number of squares which their body covers, calculate how many squares 65% of those squares would be, 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). Have the students title this picture “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?
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 each student write a story about how his or her life would be different if he/she was to live in a First Nations community where there is a long-term Boil Water Advisory. Their stories should be about ¾ of a page in length.
Alternatively: If you live in a First Nations/other community where there is no safe drinking water, then have each student write a story about how his or her life would be different if he/she was to live in a community where there is safe drinking water. Their stories should be about ¾ of a page in length.
7. If the students do not complete their stories during the class period, finishing their stories can be assigned as homework.
Evaluation: Can be based on their participation in answering questions during the PowerPoint presentation and their participation during the discussion. A rubric can be used to assess the students’ stories (see attached document).
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 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
What would happen if you didn’t drink water? – Mia Nacamulli. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iMGFqMmUFs