Understanding the Urban Watershed

Understanding the Urban Watershed is a place-based, hands-on, minds-in Curriculum for students to engage with their local watershed and water systems in order to grow their environmental literacy and take action for a more equitable and sustainable future they want for themselves.

Dive in!

In 2021, we expanded our original grades 6-8 Units to include Units for 4th/5th grade and High School.

All these grade levels are now being integrated into classrooms in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and GreenFutures.

The instructional narrative and resources provided are designed for teachers and our goal is to provide all that you need to instruct your students.

The future is ours to make…

Our Learning Community of teachers implementing these units is growing and dynamic. We share feedback, new resources, examples of student work, instructional successes, and challenges on an ongoing basis.

For more information or questions, or if you want to join our growing cohort , email Ellen.Schultz@phila.gov

Click the tab for the grade level(s) you want to implement or visit all three:

Understanding the Urban Watershed

A Middle School Curriculum

Water connects us all. This website is an expedition into the Fairmount Water Works’ Understanding the Urban Watershed Curriculum, which offers an integrated approach to learning using Philadelphia’s water story as the context.

The Curriculum Project

The learning experiences presented here provide a complement of engaging lessons and activities, materials, rubrics and resources designed for the middle school student. With a quick log in option, it also offers formal and informal educators online access to join our Discussion Forum, an online forum for sharing ideas, successes and challenges.

In fall 2014, Fairmount Water Works launched a three year Middle School Teacher Fellowship Program to develop an integrated urban watershed curriculum for grades 6–8, aligned with core standards. This phase of the development and piloting of the curriculum was completed in June 2017. The 3-year project was supported by the William Penn Foundation and the Philadelphia Water Department.

Curriculum Units

The curriculum is made up of 6 units. Each unit is made up of individual Learning Experiences.

Unit 1

Water in Our World

What is the value of water?

Unit 2

Drinking Water & You

What does it take for us to drink a glass of fresh, clean, delicious water?

Unit 3

Down the Drain or Out of Sight, Out of Mind

What became of Philadelphia's natural streams and valleys?

Unit 4

Land and Water: A Delicate Balance

Can we create sustainable urban design solutions that work with the natural water cycle?

Unit 5

Green (and Blue) Plan for the Future: Playing a Part

Can we create a heathy, beautiful and sustainable Philadelphia?

Unit 6

Environmental Stewardship, Climate Change and Youth Action

What are we going to do to protect our watershed?