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How to travel the world from your classroom and get pupils excited about water conservation

Martin Crabbe, geography teacher at Glebe School, Bromley and Chair of London Sustainable Schools Network is a champion of encouraging students to show citizenship and collaborate with one another to improve the local environment. Here he tells us why he’s signed up to Global Action Plan’s water education project for 8-14 year olds, to teach his pupils about their use of water and why it matters.

The most engaging and satisfying teaching happens when students are transported beyond the four walls of the classroom and begin to make connections between their own experiences and the wider world. It helps cultivate a genuine ethos of active care among students and encourages them to consider how they can improve their school and local area.

When it comes to teaching about for teaching about the environment and water conservation, this ideally entails the adoption of an integrated three-pronged approach, embedding sustainability into the curriculum, across the campus and within the local community. 

This isn’t always easy to do, but the Water Explorer project helps teachers achieve it by blending classroom learning and campus-based engagement in a fun and inspiring way. The activities can be teacher- or student-led and range from organising a team to clean up a local water source to developing a water awareness campaign within the school. 

The project is run in 11 different countries and involves an online race to get students from across the world to learn about water and to take action in their schools and communities to conserve it.

As they complete water-based challenges, points are accumulated and the students can see a 'virtual reservoir' come to life as a result. There are prizes to win along the way, but the real excitement lies in the opportunity for one school in each country to represent their country at the World Expo in Milan in October 2015.

It’s this global nature of the programme that plays on one of the most fascinating things about water use, namely that there are so many different experiences of it across the world; from countries where there’s too much of it – where they experience flooding – to those where there’s too little and every precious drop must be conserved.

We launched our own project on the first (and only?) snowy day of the year; rather appropriately, the students named our group 'Ice Spy Kids'. We celebrated our launch by making snowmen and the students wrote a short blog. They were excited to see how each activity got us closer to filling our virtual reservoir. 

Students are encouraged to share to share their experiences of water use with other students around the world via video technology, games and message boards, and this aspect makes it quite unique. I’m hoping that by the time we've finished, my pupils will have a real sense that water use is an issue in every country, not just the UK. 

It’s great seeing the pupils really take ownership of the issue, whether that’s working across the school to raise awareness of global water issues or encouraging other students to conserve water in school and at home. These are all great lessons and experiences that they will need as they begin their journeys to become the sustainability champions of tomorrow.

Get started with free downloadable resources for water conservation on the TES website

Get involved in Global Action Plan's Water Explorer


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