4th Graders Study Water Shortage Crisis in Math Lab

February 02, 2018

In fourth-grade math lab, our students discussed the current water shortage issues being faced by the residents of Cape Town, South Africa.  Due to the shortage, residents may receive as little as 25 liters a day. Students were given two-liter bottles and were tasked with determining how much water that really is.  They measured in different units, capturing the water used when washing hands and measuring that, filling pitchers and cups, and estimated the amount of water it takes to flush a toilet, wash clothes, etc. The fourth graders generated thoughtful discussions and some students pointed out that we use water every day in ways we don't realize, like in food production and laundry. As an example, some students measured different sinks around the school to see if timed automatic sinks save water compared to regular sinks. Two students calculated how much water was used in an average six-minute shower, then multiplied that by how many people were in their family. Although humans are facing difficult challenges regarding our natural resources, it is encouraging to see our students grasp the impact of their own actions.