Development of Water Classrooms for Middle School Students

Chhavi Mathur, Sara Ahmed, Aakriti Parashar, Darab Nagarwalla, Sanskriti Menon, Bhageerath Swaraj, Rifa Meddapil, Yash Karampuri, Manav Sivaram, Ritvee Talele, Sakshi Durge Radhika Mulay, Minket Lepcha, Sukrit Sen,Kalyani Thatte, Amit Tandon, Joy Merwin Monteiro, Aparna Joshi, Rijyuta Kaabaadee  | 2023


Water, recognised by United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6, is essential to sustain all life. It intersects with various aspects of our civilisation, heritage, health, and survival. In this project, we developed pedagogical tools using place-based, multidisciplinary, imaginal, and interactive content for middle school students. The expected outcome of this pedagogy is to equip students with knowledge and core competencies such as critical transdisciplinary analysis, systems thinking, and collaborative decision-making that are essential to reimagine just, resilient, and equitable water futures. We called this curriculum the “Water Classrooms”. The core partners in this work included Living Waters Museum, Centre for Water Research, Science Activity Centre at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER Pune), and the Centre for Environment Education (Pune). The project was funded by TESF-IIHS and GCRF-UKRI. This project report details the methodology used to develop “Water Classrooms” through contextual partnerships with multiple stakeholders including experts, educators, grassroot organisations, and students. It examines the data collected during dissemination workshops with around 30 middle school students from six schools in and around Pune using qualitative and semi-quantitative analyses. The report presents ways in which art and writing exercises were used to capture and evaluate the transformation of student perceptions during the course of the sessions. Such analysis helped us articulate the impact of this pedagogy beyond mere outreach statistics. In addition to the physical and biological aspects of water, students were able to correlate its social, cultural, and ethical aspects of water to their everyday lives after the sessions. A student noted “I never thought water and gender could be related topics.” The work done over the course of one year (November 2021–October 2022) resulted in four deliverables—an online teaching resource, a policy document, a talk series for holistic understanding of sustainability (and) education, and a physical and digital exhibition-of-learning including students’ works of art such as drawings, poems, and stories.