Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Through a classroom demonstration, students will calculate the percentage of fresh water available for human use and explain why water is a limited resource.

We’ve taken elements of this lesson and adapted them for remote learning. You can find this activity here.

Learning goals:

  • Students recognise the limited quantity of fresh water available for all life on Earth.
  • Students will work collaboratively and fairly in problem solving activities.
  • Students demonstrate ability to use models to explain or demonstrate a concept.
  • Students communicate effectively in fair and considered class-wide discussion on issues.

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 5 Mathematics

  • Investigate strategies to solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions with the same denominator (ACMNA103)
  • Choose appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass (ACMMG108)

Year 5 Science

  •  With guidance, pose questions to clarify practical problems or inform a scientific investigation, and predict what the findings of an investigation might be (ACSIS231)

Year 6 Mathematics

  • Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions with the same or related denominators (ACMNA126)
  • Connect volume and capacity and their units of measurement (ACMMG138)

Year 6 Science

  • With guidance, pose questions to clarify practical problems or inform a scientific investigation, and predict what the findings of an investigation might be (ACSIS232)

Syllabus OutcomesST3-4WSMA3-11MG, MA3‑1WM, MA3‑2WM, MA3‑3WM, MA3‑7NA, MA3‑7NA

Topic: Water

Year levels: 5 and 6

Indoor or outdoor activity: Indoor

Time required: 45 mins.

Learning areas addressed: Science, Geography.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Lead students in activities and ask questions throughout the activities.

Resources required: 2 colours of construction paper, sheets of white paper, markers, globe or world map, water, 1000ml beaker, 100ml beaker or container, measuring jug, small cylinder dish, salt, freezer or an ice bucket, eyedroppers or glass stirring rod, small metal bucket.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Students may know that Earth is covered mainly by water, but they may not realise that only a small amount is available for human consumption.

Ironically, on a planet where about 71% of the surface is water, this resource is one of the main limiting factors for life on Earth. This is because only a tiny percentage of this water is actually able to support life. Most of the water on Earth is held in the oceans, followed by the water frozen at the poles. The remaining amount is the water available to support life on Earth, and this works out to be about .003% of the total water on Earth. But don’t let students in on these details just yet.


Fill a beaker with 1 litres of water. Have your 100ml beaker close by, along with measuring jug, bucket of ice (or freezer), small metal bucket or tub, world map or globe, salt and eyedropper.

Activity outline

Break the class into groups and give each group a sheet of white paper. Instruct them to draw a large circ

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

The table below shows the amount of available fresh water on Earth

Quantity of water to
be divided among all
people, plants and
animals on Earth
Amount available in litres per person  
% of total water on Earth   
All the water on Earth
233.3 billion
233.3 billion 100%
Only the fresh water
(calculate 3% of the
amount available)
7 billion 3%
Only the non-frozen
fresh water (calculate
20% of the remaining
amount available)
1.4 billion 0.6%
Available fresh water
that is not polluted,
trapped in soil, too far
below ground, etc.
(calculate 0.5% of the
remaining amount
7 million litres per person 0.003%

- or - to view worksheets

Leave your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you like or don't like about this activity:

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.