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Geography Awareness Week Blog-a-thon post > Mission:Explore Freshwater

November 17, 2010

Part of the Geography Awareness Week Blog-a-thon 2010

Mission:Explore Freshwater is a booklet that we have written to support the National Geographic’s Geography Awareness Week’s theme of Freshwater. Water is fantastic stuff and important stuff. Not only does it bring us life, but it is one of those magical things that children are naturally curious about.

How does it get up into the sky? If animals pee in water, and water is mostly pee, does that mean I drink other animals pee? Can I jump in this puddle without getting wet? How long can I hold my breath while under water? What lives in water? Can I dam this?

Of course, each of these very playful questions are basically the same ones that are asked by meteorologists, epidemiologists, physicists, biologists, hydrologists, engineers and traversing the whole party.. geographers.

“Over the following pages you will discover a series of missions. Your challenge is to complete and record each of them as best you can. By the time you have completed your unique copy of this booklet you will be an extreme missioner and have a new-found expertise in guerrilla freshwater geography.”

The challenges, activities and enquiries that we use in Mission:Explore are intentionally playful and can be used to inspire learning about a wide range of geographical issues. Exploration is a state of mind, journey and process of enquiry. To get the most out of Mission:Explore in class it’s important to take your time and go deeper than the suggested mission. What makes many of our missions a little different from usual classroom activities is the ‘guerrilla’ element. For us this is about young people learning about geography through unexpected or unusual ways.

Sara from National Geographic came to us with some key questions that needed to be addressed in the booklet:

1. Where does water come from? How

does the water cycle work?

2. How can the water crisis be mitigated? How can more people get access to clean water?

3. Why are some rivers polluted? What are the effects of water pollution? What can be done about water pollution?

4. How does water influence culture? How do cultures influence water?

5. What is the relationship between the locations of places and freshwater?

6. How is freshwater represented in popular culture?

We turned each of these into a mission that you can find inside the free booklet which you can download from here. For any of these a great way to turn them ‘guerrilla’ is to go to extremes and/or let them result in a public event, action or performance.

Capture Water <click the title to map, rate and report your mission.

Photograph or sketch everything you can find that is part of the water cycle.

You could do this as part of a Geography Awareness Week Freshwater Field Trip or Family Trip.

Walk for your life!

Imagine you had no pipes leading to your house. How far would you have to walk in order to reach your nearest source of freshwater? For the next ___ days only use water that you have carried the equivalent distance.

Take this deeper with a Geography Awareness Week 3.7 Mile Walk for Freshwater.

Create a river story

Write a story about a real or imagined journey going from the source of a river to its mouth. Use some extraordinarily long paper and use the words to form the shape of the river and surrounding places.

You could do this as part of a Geography Awareness Week Freshwater Fair or the River of Words.

Flash dance

Create a mashed-up and cross cultural dance routine that reveals how water is important to different people across the world. Flash perform your dance somewhere they would least expect it! Tip: Make your dance do some good. Put it on outside a business that needs to do a better job of managing freshwater.

You could do this as part of a Geography Awareness Week Legislative Lobby Visit.

Animal trash ratio

Explore a local stream, river or lake looking for trash and animals. How many birds, mammals, fish and reptiles do you find for every piece of human waste? Email us your findings Remember to include the location!

Take this deeper with a Geography Awareness Week Watershed Clean-Up.

Explore like a frog

Go swimming. Move through the water like a fish, a crab, a frog, a whale and a squid. Which is best for being: silent, hidden, caught, funny, scary..

Use less water

Watch your house’s water meter. Try to get through the next day by using less water than the previous one. How many days can you do this for?

Take this deeper and explore the Protect Freshwater section of Geography Awareness Week.

Does rain fall evenly?

Put identical containers outside in different places… does one fill more than the others?

Go on the wetter run

Do you get wetter if you run or walk in the rain?

Please do share with us how your explorations go by tweeting us @missionexplore or emailing us at  We have some copies of the full Mission:Explore book which includes 102 missions to give away to the 3 best freshwater mission reports sent to us before the end of November.

Mission:Explore Freshwater is a free booklet that we created in partnership with National Geographic Education. The booklet supports Geography Awareness Week 2010 which this year is highlighting the importance of freshwater. The booklet is based on Mission:Explore the children’s website and book.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Bates permalink
    February 15, 2011 20:45

    Great Site!!

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