Science ideas to inspire interest in water

Science ideas to inspire interest in water

Hydrologists, marine biologists, environmental scientists, water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators, flood planners, aquatic scientists – there are a whole host of different career opportunities related to water. 

Sometimes these job opportunities are not something one learns about until they are much older. Take a moment to introduce some fun water-related projects to the youth in your life and perhaps inspire another great mind to care for one of our most precious resources.


The Brazos River Authority wouldn’t be what it is without the highly-qualified individuals whose careers and passions led them to an organization that revolves around water.

And it’s never too late to inspire the next generation. 

Sometimes it just takes exposing someone to a topic to spark an interest.

That did the trick for Pamela Hannemann, BRA water resources planner.

Hannemann discovered in high school that she enjoyed science and enrolled in 4H. The program sent her on a week-long water camp in West Texas. 

“I remember showing up and going, ‘Where’s the water?” Hannemann said, with a laugh.

The water camp wasn’t about playing in water so much as it was about learning all the different uses of water, from municipal, recreational, irrigation, and more. The camp included touring water and wastewater treatment plants, springs, a plant that processed frozen food, crops, industries, a power plant and more. 

Suddenly Hannemann found herself hooked on water.

She said she spent all four years of high school in 4H and went to the water camp every year, the last year as a student leader. 

“That led me to knowing and understanding how many different things I could do with a water career,” said Hannemann, who has been with the BRA nine years. “We did a lot of experiments too. It was a lot of hands-on stuff and really fun.”

Hannemann graduated from Tarleton State University with a bachelor's in hydrology and now plays an integral part in BRA operations.

Here are some ideas to start looking into ways water works:

•    How does moisture travel from the roots of a plant to the rest of the plant? Check out this experiment via Science Kids.

You’ll need a glass of water, an empty glass, and some paper towels.

1. Twist a couple of pieces of paper towel together until it forms something that looks a little like a piece of rope, this will be the 'wick' that will absorb and transfer the water.
2. Place one end of the paper towels into the glass filled with water and the other into the empty glass.
3. Watch what happens,

What's happening? The paper towel rope starts getting wet, and after a few minutes you will notice that the empty glass is starting to fill with water. The glass will keep filling until there is an even amount of water in each glass. How does this happen?

“This process is called 'capillary action,' the water uses this process to move along the tiny gaps in the fiber of the paper towels,” according to the article. “It occurs due to the adhesive force between the water and the paper towel being stronger than the cohesive forces inside the water itself.”

•    How does a river flow affect the environment?
In this geology science project via Science Buddies, youth can set up a model with sand, cornmeal, and water to help study this question, and learn from observations, just like a real hydrologist. When rain falls or snow melts, some of the water will soak into the ground. The rest of the water flows across the land as runoff into rivers, streams, and lakes. On its way, water erodes the land and drags sediment and debris with it.

•    You can learn the definition of a water cycle. Or perhaps you can make one in a bottle. 
This experiment from Little Bins for Little Hands can help teach a variety of important water cycle-related terms, including evaporation, condensation, precipitation and more. 

•    It’s possible you’ve used a water filter product before pouring a glass to drink. Or perhaps you’ve wondered how wastewater removes all the unwanted material to create a clean product.  In this experiment from Fizzics Education, youth can learn how to create their own water filter. Try testing different variables by using different sand sizes of gravel grains.

•    Maybe you’re looking for something a little more colorful. This “Walking Water Science Experiment” via Cool Science Experiments HQ shows how a few common kitchen items can show how water sometimes appears to defy gravity. 


•    What does it take to be a scientist? Well, learning how to be a scientist is all about asking questions, testing ideas, and finding solutions. Students can practice these three things multiple ways through this experiment that involves a lot of people’s favorite thing: candy.  This experiment from Little Bins for Little Hands involves Skittles, water, and paper plates.

Making science fun and exciting to learn can start at any age and inspire generations.