Embodied Water Curriculum Activity

Suitable for Secondary (Years 7-10)

Victorian Curriculum Links:

The Humanities: Geography
7-8: (VCGGK105), (VCGGK108)
9-10: (VCGGK135)
7-8: (VCSSU101)

Activity Description

The Embodied Water activity raises awareness of the hidden yet most significant portion of our water footprint, e.g. the water required to grow, manufacture and transport products that we commonly use and eat. Students will be asked to classify the different forms that water takes as a resource by looking at different ‘every day’ items and matching these with the amount of embodied water it contains.

Key Concepts

Water Footprint, Water Use, Virtual Water, Conservation, Life Cycle

Key Learning Intentions

1. Introducing the concept of hidden/virtual/embodied water
2. How much water it takes to produce something
3. Understanding the extent of our true water footprint

Suggestions for Assessment

1. Participation in the Embodied Water activity
2. Participation in the Discussion questions above


1. Mix and Match
Virtual or embodied water is the measurement of the amount of water used to produce each of the goods and services we use. Match each of the items (e.g. hamburger, paper, t-shirt) with the cards indicating the equivalent amount of embodied water required for the item’s production and manufacture

2. Discussion
1. Which three everyday items contain the most embodied water? Why do you think this is the case?
2. Suggest reasons for why the production of beef requires so much water?
3. How might food production affect local water environments?
4. How might this activity affect the decisions people make about what they consume?
5. What is one way we can reduce the amount of embodied water required to produce the things that we consume? (e.g. 5Rs: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

Suggested ResourceSmart Schools Module Links

Undertaking the activity as described above links to the ResourceSmart Schools Water Module – actions B1.2, B1.3

Below is a list of extension activities that link to additional actions of the Water module:

  1. Estimate whole family and/or school water footprint. Include water footprint activity in newsletter to families and share tips on how to reduce water impact (Resourcesmart Schools Water Module – action C3.5)
  2. Students to run a meat and dairy free lunch day at your school to raise awareness around embodied water. Follow up with whole school community survey to investigate opportunities to hold these on an ongoing basis (ResourceSmart Schools Water Module – actions B1.4, C1.2, C2.1)
  3. Look at examples of how indigenous or other cultures/countries use water on a day-to-day basis. You could invite a local indigenous group(s) to share their perspective on water use and conservation (ResourceSmart Schools Water Module – actions B1.5, B1.6)
  4. Research agricultural management strategies in Australia. Write a report with recommendations on various sustainable methods of food production that promote water efficiency in a Victorian context (ResourceSmart Schools Water Module – actions B1.1, B1.3, C3.1)
  5. Students to compile a report about key findings of the activity and share in your school’s newsletter and website (ResourceSmart Schools Water Module – actions C1.1, C1.3)

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