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Active Learning Item 1:
Water use at home

Supports teaching in:

Mathematics, Physics


12-16 years

Work time:

5 hours

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You can find all the text parts of the Active Learning Item on the homepage below this section. In this box you can download it as a zip-package of pdf descriptions and summary answer sheets. 

Machine translation:

Invitation for communication

Read more explanation here

See results from other classes:

  • None available yet

Pupils will investigate the water use in their own household, what water sources are used, which source is used for which purposes and how much water is used for the various purposes. Based on their observation they will discuss how they can improve the use of water.

Water use at home

(Full description without summary sheet. Download as pdf with summary sheet above)

Short description

In this assignment, each pupil will estimate the amount of water their family uses for daily purposes like drinking, washing up, bathing etc. If the water is taken from more than one water source, the pupil will also investigate which water source is used for what and why. They will summarize the class results and compare with experiences from other places.

The purpose is that the pupils shall understand where the water comes from, reflect on water scarcity issues if present, know their own level of water use and be prepared to discuss water management problems in society.

Generic learning outcomes


  • The pupil can apply different strategies for mathematical problem solving.
  • The pupil can apply measurement tools in everyday life situations.
  • The pupil can estimate and determine volume.
  • The pupil can apply percentage calculation.
  • The pupil can work with measurement units (volume, time, flow).
  • The pupil can complete and present their own statistical surveys.


  • The pupil can explain data from the measurements of the water cycle.
  • The pupil can design and carry out studies on the Earth's water resources.
  • The pupil can explain how Earth water systems affect human living conditions.

SDG related outcomes

Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

  • Target 6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
  • Target 6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • Target 6.b: Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

Notes for the teacher

Before giving pupils the full assignment:

  • Introduce the water issue in general, in a discussion with the pupils:
    • what do we use water for in general (drinking, household, irrigation…)
    • water resources (groundwater, lakes, rivers, sea water) and how these are harvested, particularly for use in the household.
    • Discuss water scarcity in detail if it is relevant in your area.
  • Let the class discuss:
    • Which sources of water they have in their area (and why they use different sources if they do) and prepare a common list of sources for the survey (see suggested list in activities, but you may agree on other headings)
    • What they use water for at home. Agree on categories (see suggested list in activities, but you may agree on other headings)
    • The pupils may try to guess which activities they think they use most water for, the 2nd most and what they use less water for?
    • How they can measure and estimate their own family’s water consumption from different sources and how much they use for the different purposes. Make sure everyone knows how to do it, so they are ready to do it on their own.

Regarding data collection at home:

  • Make sure that all pupils use the same lists of items. Have an “other” heading on the lists, so they can note down any ideas they may get at home.
  • When a pupil has a question about the activities, try as much as possible to let the class discuss the matter and agree (with your moderation), rather than you giving answers
  • Data may be noted in notebooks, phones, computers as appropriate in your situation.


Reading links:

Aids for the assignment

  • Excel sheet for summarizing results
  • Feedback sheet to the international DIAL# network

Time needed

Intro, questions at school: 2 hours

Fieldwork: 1 hour

Finishing: 2 hours

Materials needed

  • Pen and paper

Activity description for pupils

After discussing water resources and water use in the class, each pupil should do practical field work in their own household. They should do the following individual activities, for which they may help each other in groups:

Water sources:

  • Which water sources do your family use? (Please revise the list to your area’s situation)
    • Own handpump
    • Public hand pump
    • Taps in house
    • Own tap in garden
    • Public tap
    • Own Pond
    • Public pond / river
    • Other? (please specify)
  • Estimate how much water is used on average in one day from each water source.
    • If carried home from water points: Find a proper way to measure the volume of the containers you use to carry water home in. Count number of each container fx through discussion with mother/water carriers.
    • If in pipe with meter: Read the meter and compare with last reading
    • If in pipe without meter: Fx measure flow and estimate time it is open.
  • Depict the water use from different water sources in a bar-chart diagram for your family. (Possible extension: Convert the numbers to percentages and depict them also in a pie-chart)
  • Calculate how much the water consumption is per person for your family.

Purpose of water:

  • Estimate also how much of this water is used for
    • Drinking
    • Cooking
    • Washing hands
    • Bathing
    • Cleaning house
    • Washing clothes
    • Washing utensils
    • Other (please specify)
    • And how much is wasted?
  • Depict the purpose of water in your family in a bar chart diagram for your family (Possible extension: Convert the numbers to percentages and depict them also in a pie-chart)

Follow-up class activities

  • Enter all numbers for each pupil in two big tables (one for sources, one for purpose) on blackboards, large papers/flipcharts or in a computer spread sheet (use fx attached excel sheet). Summarise each category and make a summary pie chart (see details in the attached excel sheet).
  • Based on the summary results, discuss in the class, fx:
    • Which activities do your class use most water for, 2nd most and which do you use less water for? Was it as expected before the assignment?
    • Discuss whether you think you overuse or underuse water from some sources? Do you waste a lot of water?
    • Discuss how the water use could be improved; Do you need more/better facilities? More information? Are some of your water sources affected by climate changes or new developments (fx increasing irrigation, improved hand pumps…)? What can you and your families do to improve the situation?