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Geography Awareness Week 2010: Freshwater

Water is one of the defining issues of the 21st century. Of all the water on the planet, less than 1% is available for human use. Will we have enough to support a growing global population, and how will a changing climate affect access to freshwater around the world? Discover the fascinating geography of Earth's most precious natural resource through activities, multimedia, quizzes, and more this Geography Awareness Week—and learn what you can to do help, both globally and locally.

Launched in 1987 by presidential proclamation, Geography Awareness Week is an annual opportunity for families and schools to engage in fun, educational experiences that draw attention to Geo-Literacy and the importance of geographic understanding in ensuring our nation's economic competitiveness, national security, environmental sustainability, and the livability of our communities in the 21st century.

Learn About Freshwater

Learn about the many facets of freshwater with our educational resources. Teachers, students, families and community groups will find a variety of lesson plans, projects, tips, and information for every age.

Photo: Map


Read and Write About Freshwater

Photo: Girl studying map


Read books about freshwater, as well as articles in magazines, newspapers, and blogs. Print a K-12 booklist, take advantage of special offers, and express your water thoughts in an art and poetry contest.

  • National Geographic Books Special Offer
    Get a 50% discount on select water titles from National Geographic Books.
  • Honest Hope
    Read about the geography of water—from the Aral Sea to Lake Mead to the Yellow River—in this essay from National Geographic Freshwater Fellow Sandra Postel, which is featured in the book Written in Water (available with a 50% educator discount).
  • Freshwater Booklist
    Choose a book from this list to read as a class or family, in your bookclub, or just for yourself. From Magic School Bus to Sylvia Earle, there are books for readers of all ages and abilities.
  • GAWeek Blog-a-Thon
    Join in the third annual Blog-a-Thon. Get perspectives from multiple wavelengths, along with photos and multimedia.
  • River of Words
    The annual contest, affiliated with the Library of Congress, showcases youth art and poetry to millions of people around the world in an effort to connect citizens with their watersheds.
  • Newspaper Puzzles
    Test your freshwater vocabulary with a word search and crossword puzzle. Send the activities to your local newspaper to run during Geography Awareness Week (PDF download-multiple large files).

Interact With Freshwater

Get up-close-and-personal with freshwater through games, quizzes, videos, and multimedia. Download a free copy of National Geographic magazine's digital water issue, compete in a satellite imagery identification challenge, and watch compelling video clips.

  • Water: Our Thirsty World
    Download your FREE copy of the special edition of National Geographic magazine during the month of November, 2010.
  • Liquid Assets
    This documentary tells the story of essential infrastructure systems: water, wastewater, and stormwater. Watch the 16-minute overview video and use the community toolkit to make a difference.
  • GeoSpatial Revolution
    In four online episodes, explore how geography-based technology is changing how we think, behave, and interact with our world. Educator resources bring these important lessons to your home or classroom.
  • Freshwater Films
    Choose a film from this list of videos, from documentaries to cartoons. Find one that is age-appropriate for your classroom, or fun and interesting for the whole family!
  • Where's That Water?
    Identify water bodies in satellite images for a chance to win cool prizes—there's a new quiz every day!
  • Nat & Geo's Adventures
    Go "Down the Red River" or "Explore a Shipwreck" with Nat & Geo on these H20 Adventures!
  • NG Kids: Creek Clean-up Game
    Help a toucan clean up a creek with this interactive game!
  • EcoRescue Rivers Game
    Clean up several North American rivers and find out what pollutes our waterways with this fun game.
Photo: Person holding a GPS device


Take Care of Freshwater

Photo: Girl holding notebook


Now that you know what the global water crisis is, do something about it! Calculate you water footprint and find ways to conserve. Become a water hero and support projects around the world, or educate students in your local community.

  • Water Footprint Calculator
    Find out how much water you are using daily, and pledge to cut it by 20%.
  • Be a Water Hero
    Check out National Geographic Kids' list of 25 things you can do.
  • Global Action Atlas
    Help change the world, one freshwater project at a time, with this new tool from National Geographic.
    Pair with a teacher and bring real-world geography into the classroom.
  • H20 for Life
    A nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that links U.S. schools to schools in developing countries to bring them water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • Global Water Challenge
    A coalition of leading organizations that aims to accelerate the delivery of safe water and sanitation to those in need.

Host a Freshwater Event

Bring freshwater to your community this November—and beyond! Find everything you need to plan, promote, host, and report about a freshwater event, such as a trivia night or a walk for water. Download logos, posters, press releases, and more.

  • Event-Planning Guide
    Pick, plan, and promote your Geography Awareness Week event (PDF download-large file).
  • Event Survey
    Once you have hosted a wildly successful Geography Awareness Week event, tell us about it! Please complete this short survey form to give us your feedback.
  • Water Walk Guide
    Use this guide to host a 3.7 mile walk for water in your town.
  • Freshwater Trivia
    Download these freshwater quiz questions from the National Geographic Bee. Use them with students in the classroom or host a trivia night.
  • Geography Awareness Week Posters
    Use one or more of these three posters for publicizing GAWeek events in your community (PDF download-large file).
  • Geography Awareness Week Logo
    Use these logos whenever you create related materials such as posters, banners, newspaper ads, etc. (multiple files).
  • Geography Awareness Week Official Proclamation
    Give this proclamation to town mayors and your state governor. Ask them to sign, stamp, and declare "Geography Awareness Week" throughout the land.
  • World Water Day
    Everything you need to know about World Water Day and how you can get involved.
  • Akvo
    Facilitates water and sanitation projects around the world. Fund a project and track its progress.


National Geographic Magazine
Image: Great Migrations
Mission: Explore Freshwater

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