This activity is a part of the Peak Water: Mount Everest and Global Water Supply unit. 

1. Assist students as they research and compile a list of ways they can conserve water to avoid a “Day Zero.”

  • Introduce students to the term conservation. Let students know that in addition to industries and lawmakers making big changes that will impact our climate, they can take individual action to protect our water resources.
  • Have students test their knowledge of ways to conserve water by working with a partner to play the Test Your WaterSense game.
      • Elicit students’ ideas about what they learned about water conservation and what new ideas they have for saving water at school and at home (as well as what farmers, governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations can do). 
  • Distribute the Project Journal: Avoiding “Day Zero.” In teams of 2-4, have students research ways to conserve water using the following resources:


2. Facilitate students’ exploration of Mount Everest Base Camp images to better understand how humans impact the Everest watershed.

  • Have students browse the slideshow.
  • Share these portions of the article with students:
      • “According to popular Everest blogger Alan Arnette, Nepal's Ministry of Tourism has issued 375 Everest climbing permits for the 2019 spring season; on the North side, there are reportedly 144 foreign climbers. It’s illegal to simply show up at base camp with a climbing permit, pitch a tent, and try to climb the mountain. All foreigners must climb the mountain through a locally licensed logistics company, which supply base camp accommodations, meals, and basic bathroom facilities. For every one foreign climber, there are three to four local workers living in base camp as well—either climbing Sherpa working on the mountain itself or base camp staff—the cooks, dishwashers, servers, and team managers who all look after the guided clients.”
  • Share with students that about 500 hikers a day use the Everest Base Camp trail during the busy season.
  • Ask: What impact do you think the thousands of Everest Base Camp trekkers, over 500 foreign climbers, and 1,500 or so local workershave on Mount Everest? (Student responses may vary, but could include impacts due to water usage for meals and waste or wastewater produced by toileting.)
  • Have students add to Section 2 of the Project Journal.


3. Have students read with a partner the “Bad News for the Himalayas” section of the Inside the Everest expedition that built the world’s highest weather station article.

  • Debrief by asking students:
      • Based on the article, how will the new weather stations on Mount Everest help scientists understand water security for the Ganges (Ganga)-Brahmaputra River watershed? (Students may answer: Climate scientists can better understand the subtropical jet stream and collect long-term data on this influence on growing seasons and storm tracks. The weather stations will help scientists understand how snow accumulation and ice/snowmelt respond to climate variability and change.)
      • Other than physical waste, what is the largest threat to Mount Everest’s watershed’s water security? (Human waste or reduced water held in glacier/snowpack due to climate change)
  • Let students know that in the next section, they will be researching and brainstorming ways to solve water security problems for the Ganges-Brahmaputra River watershed.


4. Support students as they research ways Everest mountaineers can help minimize human impact on the quality of water supply for those living in this region.

 
5. Prompt students to revise the Know & Need to Know chart for the last time.

  • Revisit the class Know & Need to Know chart, initially completed in the A Day Without Water activity, for students to see how their thinking and understanding about water has changed throughout the unit.
  • Ask students to discuss with a partner:
      1. What do we already know about the importance of Everest’s ice?
      2. Is there anything else you need to know?
      3. What questions can move from the Need to Know to the Know column?
  • Prompt students to share ideas and questions in a whole-class discussion. Record new ideas and revise their questions as needed in the Know & Need to Know chart.

Informal Assessment

Students will compile a list of ways they can conserve water to avoid a “Day Zero” and ways Everest mountaineers and Base Camp trekkers can help minimize human impact on the quality of water supply for those living in this region. They will record this list in the Project Journal: Avoiding Day Zero. The journal should be collected and reviewed at the end of this activity.

Extending the Learning

Step 1: Have students read the Conserving the Earth article.

After the activity: Encourage students to share the EPA WaterSense Pledge with their families.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Explore and evaluate solutions for conserving water.
  • Review the human impact on Mount Everest’s watershed using a hyper-local lens.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Multimedia instruction
  • Research

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

Next Generation Science Standards

What You’ll Need

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per pair, Projector, Speakers

Grouping

  • Heterogeneous grouping
  • Large-group instruction
  • Small-group learning

Background Information

The connection between the weather station on Mount Everest and water security can be difficult to understand. The key to the connection can be found in the Inside the Everest expedition that built the world’s highest weather station article:

“The reason any of this was worth the effort, risk, and cost is because only Mount Everest and a few of its Himalayan cousins are tall enough to reliably pierce the subtropical jet stream—one of the narrow bands of powerful winds that circle the globe at high altitudes, influencing everything from storm tracks to agriculture growing seasons. For climate scientists, there are few more pressing phenomena to understand than the jet stream, and the weather station would provide scientists an important new tool with which to gather data about it.”

Because jet streams affect temperature and precipitation, they impact the water available in a watershed. To read more about jet streams, you can visit this Jet stream encyclopedic entry or this Jet Streams article from the North Carolina Climate Office.

Prior Knowledge

  • Students should have a basic understanding of their project work for the unit and how Mount Everest connects to water conservation issues.

Vocabulary

Noun

management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

Sherpa
Noun

people and culture native to the Himalayan region of Nepal and China. Sherpa often serve as mountaineer guides and porters on mountain-climbing expeditions.

water conservation
Noun

process of lowering the amount of water used by homes and businesses.

Websites