EarthEcho Expedition: Water By Design is an exploration of the diverse engineering solutions California's resource managers are implementing in response to the recent 7-year drought. Explore the connection between the Sierra snowpack and the people of Los Angeles. Understand how NASA's satellite technology is used to help water resource managers on Earth. Investigate how seawater and water deep underground play a role in satisfying this thirsty urban region. Discover solutions and actions you can take in your own home or community to conserve water resources.

All EarthEcho Expedition: Water by Design resources are developed collaboratively with and vetted by the 26 participating educators who currently serve as EarthEcho Expedition Fellows. These materials have truly been developed by teachers for teachers to support young people as they develop the skills to take action in their own community around drought and water conservation.

EarthEcho Expeditions leverages the thrill of adventure to inspire a new generation of environmental champions. We are excited to partner with the Northrop Grumman Foundation on this year’s timely Expedition examining innovative solutions to quench the water demands of thirsty urban landscapes,” said Philippe Cousteau, Jr., founder of EarthEcho International.  

It takes more than knowledge of environmental issues to equip young people with civic skills to solve the complex problems facing our planet. Through service learning, youth identify community needs, develop plans and partnerships and are inspired and motivated to take action. The Five Stages of Service Learning—investigation, preparation, action, reflection, and demonstration—provide a reliable process. By understanding how each stage works, youth become effective community changemakers.

  • Day 1 The Issue

    Looking at Earth from space, it definitely looks like a water planet. Although 71% of Earth is composed of water, freshwater is limited and must be managed. Philippe Cousteau meets with Kat Bormann from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Marty Adams from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to learn how freshwater resources are being managed using innovative technological solutions.

  • Constructing An Aqueduct - Engineering Design Activity
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    Constructing An Aqueduct - Engineering Design Activity

    This design challenge moves your students from passive to active learners through a cross-curricular, hands-on team challenge in direct correlation to real-world issues of water conservation.  In this lesson, students, grades 6-8, will learn about aqueducts through a close reading activity. They are then given different scenarios in an engineering design challenge to create an aqueduct to supply freshwater to their city, despite various obstacles.

    Download Lesson Plan
  • California Aqueduct
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    California Aqueduct

  • Know Your Flow
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    Know Your Flow

    Everything about you and your daily life requires water, from the clothes you wear, to the food you eat, to how you're powered. Get to know your flow by conducting a water efficiency audit at your school, and discover how you can Reduce, Recycle and Re-think your water use with the help of this Action Guide.

    Download Action Guide
  • STEM Career Closeup: Kat Bormann
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    STEM Career Closeup: Kat Bormann

    Learn what it means to be a climate scientist with Kat Bormann from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.. In her work, Kat utilizes airplanes and satellites, as well as spends her days outside conducting field research. Learn more about her career and how you can prepare for a similar position.

  • STEM Career Closeup: Tatiana Vinogradova
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    STEM Career Closeup: Tatiana Vinogradova

    Tatiana Vinogradova is a senior research scientist at Northrop Grumman Space Systems in Redondo Beach, CA, where she studies the Arctic from space. Discover more about Tatiana’s inspiration and her day to day work using different types of sensors to combine data on ice observation.

  • STEM Career Closeup: Pamela Emch
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    STEM Career Closeup: Pamela Emch

    Pamela Emch is an engineering fellow with Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, CA. Her work is at the forefront of developing new technologies to answer some of our biggest questions about both Earth and space. Pam offers inspiration and advice for young people interested in pursuing careers in engineering and technology.

  • Youth in Action: Water Guardians
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    Youth in Action: Water Guardians

    The Water Guardians from Washington Middle School in La Habra, CA, worked to make an impact in their community through policy. These young women helped to write and pass a bill that conserves freshwater by establishing water-efficiency partnerships between schools and water providers. Ashlan Cousteau talks with the Water Guardians about how their actions led to change at a state level.

  • Reservoir
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    Reservoir

See all Day 1 Photos on Flickr
  • Day 2 The Issue

    Far more of our freshwater is stored underground as groundwater than is in our lakes, rivers, and streams. Philippe Cousteau travels to the Orange County Water District in Fountain Valley, CA,to meet with engineer Sandy Scott Roberts, who explains how they manage and use the freshwater from this surprising underground source.

  • The Anatomy of an Aquifer
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    The Anatomy of an Aquifer

    This design challenge moves your students from passive to active learners through a cross-curricular, hands-on team challenge in direct correlation to real-world issues of water conservation. Through this lesson,  students in grades 6-8 will create a model of an aquifer to understand the structure of aquifers, how aquifers impact our freshwater supply and groundwater in regards to the water cycle.

    Download Lesson Plan
  • Fellows drinking recycled water
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    Fellows drinking recycled water

  • STEM Career Closeup: Carmen Boening
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    STEM Career Closeup: Carmen Boening

    Carmen Boening leads the GRACE Mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Discover more about her background, her day to day work with satellites, and what advice she has to share with young people.

  • Youth in Action: Eagle Scout Project with CJ
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    Youth in Action: Eagle Scout Project with CJ

    Philippe Cousteau meets  CJ, a 16-year-old Eagle Scout who designed a water-wise garden showcase for the Lenain Water Treatment plant in Anaheim, CA.. CJ takes Philippe on a tour of his gardens and explains how his community has learned more about water conservation from his Eagle Scout project.

See all Day 2 Photos on Flickr
  • Day 3 The Issue

    Water, water everywhere...could the ocean be a reasonable source of freshwater for our communities? Philippe Cousteau travels to the West Basin Municipal Water District’s Water Education Center in Redondo Beach, CA.. Here Darryl Ramos-Young explains the process of desalination and the results of a multi-year pilot study examining the benefits and challenges of turning saltwater into freshwater.  

  • Desalination Design Activity
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    Desalination Design Activity

    This design challenge moves your students from passive to active learners through a cross-curricular, hands-on team challenge in direct correlation to real-world issues of water conservation. By creating prototype desalination plants and companies, students in grades 6-8 will understand how substances are separated, the need for freshwater conservation, and ultimately how a desalination plant works.

    Download Lesson Plan
  • Water by Design: Philippe & Fellow interview photo
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    Water by Design: Philippe & Fellow interview photo

  • STEM Career Closeup: Darryl Ramos-Young
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    STEM Career Closeup: Darryl Ramos-Young

    Darryl Ramos-Young is a public information specialist for the West Basin Municipal Water District in Redondo Beach, CA. He educates  people about their local water and from where it comes. Discover more about his career and the advice he has to share with young people.

  • Water by Design: Pipe diameter photo
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    Water by Design: Pipe diameter photo

See all Day 3 Photos on Flickr
  • Day 4 The Issue

    In Southern California, about 80% of the freshwater supply is used for farming. Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau meet with executive chef and farmer Adam Navidi from Future Foods Farms in Brea, CA. Chef Adam uses an innovative farming design called aquaponics to grow lettuce, vegetables, and even fish with less water than the average family uses at home on a daily basis.

  • Increasing Food Production with Precision Agriculture
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    Increasing Food Production with Precision Agriculture

    Participating in this hands-on lesson, students in grades 6-8 will lead each other through the integration and application of a real-life situation. This lesson provides a PowerPoint and worksheets to help students understand precision agriculture and its use of geographic information systems to help farmers use a sustainable growing method.  Students will then integrate their knowledge and skills to create their own mini irrigation system.

    Download Lesson Plan
  • Water by Design: Aquaponic tanks photo
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    Water by Design: Aquaponic tanks photo

  • STEM Career Closeup: Adam Navidi
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    STEM Career Closeup: Adam Navidi

    Adam Navidi is the executive chef and aquaponics farmer at Future Foods Farm in Brea, CA. Discover more about the work of this unlikely STEM professional, including his inspiration and advice for budding entrepreneurs.

  • Water by Design: Future Foods Farm photo
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    Water by Design: Future Foods Farm photo

  • Youth in Action: Environmental Charter Middle School
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    Youth in Action: Environmental Charter Middle School

    Environmental Charter Middle School in Gardena, CA, guides their students to discover environmental issues in their community and create solutions.  Expedition Fellow Tashanda Giles-Jones and her Green Ambassadors show that award-winning conservation efforts are a matter of simple design after identifying a community need.  

  • Water by Design: Tomato photo
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    Water by Design: Tomato photo

  • Aquaponics 101
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    Aquaponics 101

    In this curricular guide, middle school students learn about an alternative farming technique that addresses water use in agricultural farming, the environmental impacts of fish farms, and urban development and population growth. This guide promotes 21st-century skills by engaging students in the history of aquaponics through various texts; improving their communication skills by explaining how an aquaponics system works; and engineering your own classroom aquaponics unit through an interactive design challenge!

    Download Lesson Plan
  • Water by Design: Expedition Fellow photo
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    Water by Design: Expedition Fellow photo

See all Day 4 Photos on Flickr