water cycle exhibit water on wheels

Update for 2019

The Water on Wheels program is five years old, having debuted in the fall of 2014. More than 5,000 people a year have experienced the WOW, and it's in need of some minor maintenance and repairs. A limited number of visits will be made through September 2019.

The lesson plans that accompany the WOW are also being updated, to reflect current Tennessee science academic standards. The lesson plans will be for students in grade 4.

Connecting the Classroom to the WOW

Lesson plans connecting the WOW exhibits to learning standards are available HERE.  These lesson plans connect the exhibits with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards and were created by classroom teachers. The lesson plans are designed for students in grades 4 through 6. The lesson plans were created under the guidance of the science curriculum specialists from the Shelby County Schools system. 

To prepare students for a WOW visit, teachers are strongly encouraged to use at least one of these lesson plans prior to the WOW's visit.  Students will have some familiarity about water, allowing them to better comprehend and retain the information the information from the WOW visit.  

Please note:  We are in the process of updating our lesson plans to correlate with current Tennessee learning standards.

Lesson Plans and Learning Outcomes


Students will create an aquifer in a cup and use representations of pollutants to determine how contaminants can affect the quality of the Memphis aquifer's water.

The Water Cycle

Students will identify and explain the different parts of the water cycle. The lesson also covers why water is essential to plants and animals.

The Journey of Water

Students will identify and describe the steps of the water cycle.

Water Distribution on Earth and Its Forms

Students will identify the distribution of water and its forms on Earth.

Water Usage

Students will discuss the different types of water on earth and summarize why some water is not drinkable.  Students will also examine and calculate personal water usage as a way of understanding the importance of water conservation.

Down the Drain

Students will explore how the sewer and storm drains are different and the impacts of each on the environment, as well as how they are connected to the water cycle.

Water Awareness

Students will demonstrate an understanding of water issues on a national and global scale and provide solutions to solving water problems.

Water Testing

Students will explore acids and bases using the pH scale and learn how water provides a neutral basis for comparison. Students will have the opportunity to test and analyze unidentified substances using litmus strips or an electronic pH sensor. Extension activities include a close reading of a non-fiction text, a writing prompt, and a standards-based math activity.

Favorite Learning Activities

To help students understand groundwater and water in general, here are a few learning activities that are effective and fun.  These can be done before the WOW visits your school or on their own.

A movement activity.  With this activity, students take turns being water, gravel, sand, and clay. This kinesthetic activity is a great way for students to understand how water moves easily around large rocks, moves more slowly around sand grains, and cannot move through clay easily. No supplies are needed, only space to spread out.  Find the activity HERE.

A hands-on activity.  With this activity, students build a model of an aquifer.  While building it, students observe how water moves around the grains of sand more slowly than it moves around rock. They will also observe that it is difficult for water to move through clay. The model also allows for a visual demonstration of groundwater contamination.  Find the activity HERE.

An activity booklet.  This booklet has activities appropriate for students in elementary and middle school. Pick and choose what is best for your students.  Find the activity booklet HERE.

All of these activities may be downloaded for FREE.  

Other Resources

Water Resources from the Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA provides a variety of educational materials on water for teachers and the public, HERE.