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Teaching about California Water's Supply

created Sep 26, 2017 04:41 PM

by Shelley Brooks

The recent Current Context issue on the Challenge of California’s Water Supply provides students with the opportunity to think about the importance of California’s water infrastructure to the state’s success. The timeline connects students to the choices made in the past to manage and direct the flow of water throughout the state. At a deeper level, however, there is the very question of the health of California’s watersheds. The history-social science classroom may not seem at first glance the place to tackle the issue of watersheds, but examining where, when, and to what extent Californians have converted once undeveloped land into homes, agricultural fields, factories, urban areas, and highways is critical to understanding the health of California’s watersheds. A teaching resource developed by the California Department of Conservation includes many helpful slides for the classroom that explain watersheds, how they operate, what benefits they provide, how humans influence them, and suggestions for conservation efforts. See the entire teaching resource here:

The map analysis activity on page 6 of the Current Context suggests a number of discussion questions to engage students in thinking about the extent to which California’s watersheds have influenced where population and agricultural centers exist throughout the state, and how important watershed management is to sustaining California’s people and industries. Looking all together at the history of water management, watershed science, and today’s water infrastructure conditions will give students a deeper understanding of the state’s most important natural resource.

Finally, for an excellent map for classroom investigation, see the National Geographic map "Water for Life" created for the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI):