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

1. Ask students to read about how Mount Everest mountaineers are impacting the water supply.
  • Direct students to read Trash and Overcrowding at the Top of the World to learn how mountaineers on Mount Everest are impacting the water supply, and to better understand how human activity can impact the environment, especially the resource of freshwater.
      • Distribute the Project Journal: How We Impact the Water Supply and ask students to read the article in pairs.
      • As they read, direct students to respond to the Question 1 prompts on the Project Journal.
      • Lead a class discussion that highlights the big ideas from the reading (e.g., Mount Everest is growing increasingly polluted as the growing number of visitors puts a strain on the natural environment).
  • Cycle through the image slideshow from the Inside the Everest Expedition that Built the World’s Highest Weather Station article to help students envision the area. Have students read the captions for each image.
      • Ask: How did these images help you understand the impact that mountaineers are having on Everest? (Some students may say this helps them see how many people are on Everest at once and that all of that waste has to go somewhere.)
      • Ask: Based on these images, what evidence do you have or what inferences can you make that humans are impacting Mount Everest’s water supply? (e.g., human waste left behind is by far the biggest problem, which has incredibly negative impacts on the watershed)
      • Have students respond to the Question 2 prompt on the Project Journal.
2. Facilitate students’ exploration of examples of how plastic and other waste can be upcycled or recycled into art to inspire their artistic model for the Peak Water: Mount Everest and Global Water Supply unit project.
  • Point out the following quote from the Trash to treasure: Turning Mt. Everest Waste into Art article: “A group of 15 artists in Nepal are turning that trash into art. Under a project called "Mt. Everest 8848 Art Project I" created last year, they have collected 1.5 tons of garbage brought down by climbers from the mountain, including remains of a helicopter that had crashed into the slopes during the 1970s.” Show students the examples of the art in the article.
  • Remind students about the project for the Peak Water: Mount Everest and Global Water Supply unit: to create a 2D or 3D artistic model symbolizing the cause and effect or ripple effect that human impacts have on water security or to send a message about water conservation.
  • Watch the 2016 video Turning Plastic Ocean Pollution into Sea-saving Art and ask students to share what inspired them and what new ideas they have for their final products.
  • Prompt students to record their new ideas for their final products on Question 3 of their Project Journal.
3. Assist students as they practice making a scientific argument after learning about Claim-Evidence-Reasoning.
  • Present Claim-Evidence-Reasoning to students by discussing the three main components of C-E-R and what each means.
      1. Claim: a statement you make or an answer to a question
      2. Evidence: facts, details, statistics, sources, and more that support your claim
      3. Reasoning: how your evidence logically supports and connects to your claim
  • If needed to support students, share or collaboratively create an example of a scientific argument using these three components. Then have students practice writing a scientific argument on a topic of their choice, using the structure provided in Question 4 of their Project Journal.
4. Assess students’ understanding of the A Shift in Supply and Demand lesson of the Peak Water: Mount Everest and Global Water Supply unit through an exit ticket.
  • Redistribute students’ Project Journals from all prior activities in the Peak Water: Mount Everest and Global Water Supply unit, so that they can use their ideas as evidence to support or refute their claim in the first assessment question below.
  • Use the prompt and questions below to assess students’ understanding of the main concepts covered in this lesson. Have students respond individually to these questions on an exit ticket:
      • Write a scientific argument that claims that human population and consumption of resources in one location can impact another location's freshwater supply.
          1. Your claim should answer the question: Do humans in one location impact the freshwater supply in another area?
          2. Evidence: Use your Project Journals from the A Shift in Supply and Demand lesson to provide at least three pieces of evidence that humans impact freshwater resources.
          3. Reasoning: Connect your evidence to the claim.
      • How does the claim presented in your argument affect water security for people around the world?
      • Draw a diagram to show the connections between humans, freshwater, snowpack, glaciers, and water security. Use arrows, words, and short descriptions of the relationships between each term.

Informal Assessment

Use the exit ticket in Step 4 to assess students’ understanding of the A Shift in Supply and Demand lesson of the Peak Water: Mount Everest and Global Water Supply unit. Students also add to their Project Journal, which will be submitted at the end of the activity and can be used to assess their understanding and ideas related to their project for the unit.

Extending the Learning

After Step 2, students could continue researching ideas for their upcycled art using the following sources:

Step 3: Have students practice making a scientific argument by interpreting the data in this graph relating temperature and state change, or using the Constructing an Argument: Water activity.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Understand how waste can impact watersheds.
  • Brainstorm ways waste can be upcycled into art that communicates a message.
  • Write a scientific argument that claims that human population and consumption of resources in one location can impact another location's fresh water supply.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Reading
  • Writing

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.1.B:  Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.

Next Generation Science Standards

What You’ll Need

Required Technology

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

Physical Space

  • Classroom


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

Background Information

Humans are responsible for polluting water, and this can come in the form of plastic, toxic waste, sewage, fertilizer, or other pollutants. Plastic pollution, in particular, can be pervasive in ecosystems. Fortunately, upcycling this waste and turning it into art serves to remove some of this waste from the watershed. The art in its finished form can also bring awareness to water pollution and other environmental issues.



reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.


to state as the truth.


data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.


process of using evidence to make inferences or conclusions using logic.


to recycle one or more items to create an object that is worth more than the original product.