Champions of Change

Students will do a water walk to understand how hard it can be to obtain clean water, serving as a catalyst for their own empathy exercise.

Photo of Erin Quinn
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Learning about issues with fresh and saltwater systems in science and paired with global citizenship outcomes in social studies, I want my students to really understand how rare and precious it is that fresh, cool, clean water comes out of their faucet on demand.

First, we will watch the short video clip attached. We will use the What? Why? How? framework to make sense of what we viewed. Then, we'll ask questions. We will aim for a hundred questions as a class! To answer some of our questions, we will use resources here

After this, I will invite them to participate in an empathy-building exercise. We will carry gallons of water on a 5K Water Walk. We will talk as we walk, and try to make sense of what we are experiencing. When we return to school, we will debrief on our experience, what compare what we had learned from research prior to our walk and what we had learned through experience during our Water Walk.  We will come to conclusions together about what can be added to understanding an issue ONLY through experience.

Then, we will use design thinking to help students find a local, national, or international social justice issue that matters to them. We will use design thinking methods to create an empathy-gaining exercise that the students could use to help others truly experience the injustice. Many of the methods in the dschool's k12 wiki and the Field Guide to Human Centered Design will be helpful here.

Finally, we will invite members of the school community to participate in the empathy experiences the students have designed.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jessica Lura

Fun idea, Erin! Have you done it previously?

Photo of Erin Quinn

I've done a water walk before, but nothing quite as anchored in empathy as this. I haven't used it to launch them to design their own empathy experiences, either. I think it would be super powerful this way!