Water Works

Project Overview

Water is life. We live in southern Appalachian Mountains, part of a temperate rainforest where over 50 inches of rain falls each year. This abundant precipitation creates a lush landscape on which our communities rely to support our population and economy. Students will explore this resource in depth from multiple perspectives. They will summarize the results of their studies with final products to include a written piece, an educational presentation/community outreach, a 3D product or art piece, and a multimedia component. Each of these products will allow students to demonstrate the mastery of both academic content and survival skills that they have achieved during the project. The final exhibition will be an Aquatic Adventure Academy where they will facilitate hands-on activities that teach local middle and elementary school students about water. 


Driving Question

How does plentiful and clean water impact and support our natural and human communities?

Entry Event


The kickoff for the new project, “Water Works”, at TCEC started at Konehete park beside the Hiwassee River. The event was sponsored by the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition and focused on water quality. From 8:30 to 1:30 on September 4th the school did macroinvertebrate digs, tested the water quality, and went on canoe rides on the beautiful Hiawassee river. This was an engaging and thought provoking opportunity for all Tri-County Early College students!


The second event for the kickoff of this project was focused on water appreciation. On September 14th at the Marble Springs Outdoor Education Association, we had 9 guest speakers. The guest speakers focused on how water relates to culture and economy and helped students generate more project ideas through exploration.

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Phase 1: Topic Selection

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To start the project the students will research  “buckets”. Buckets are interest groups that will help students narrow down or look into subjects that they might want to do their project on. Here are the buckets students can choose from:

  • Water quality

  • Law/legal

  • Culture/history

  • Biology/biodiversity

  • Recreation

  • Industry

  • Sustainability


Once students have decided what they want their project to focus on, they will create a blog post talking about it.

By the end of phase one, groups should have accomplished the following:

1) Reflection on Entry Event, as an introduction to their study

2) Research buckets

3) Blog post

4) Teams, buckets, contracts established

5) Bucket Exploration and Milestone 1 Guiding Document


Phase 2: Research & planning

The students will then create a bibliography about the work they have done so far. This will be edited to keep tracking their work. They will then create a plan, or timeline, with all their goals. Most of this phase is outlining what they want to do, and figuring out how they will do it.

By the end of the phase, the following items are due:

1) Annotated bibliography for 5 sources

2) Task plan / timeline updated and realistic

3) Second blog post completed 

4) Fieldwork planning

5) Magazine article outlined

6) Educational product outline / idea

7) Service learning tie-in plan

8) Mentor relationship established

9) Guiding document for Milestone 2

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Phase 3: Drafting & Field Work


Students will execute their plans and create solid drafts of their final products. At the end of the phase, students will peer review each others' work to help determine what final touches will be needed. The phase will end with mock presentations where they will solicit feedback from students and teachers.

By the end of the phase, students will complete the following:

1) Peer review of presentations / products / e-portfolios

2) Public presentation

3) Third blog post complete describing process of creating artifacts.

4) 3D product complete and ready to present

5) Field notes from field work (photos, notes, interviews, etc.)

Phase 4: Polishing 


During this phase, students will do more “practice” presentations and finalize their magazines. They will incorporate feedback into their final products, ensuring that they are fully prepared to present their work at the Aquatic Adventure Academy.

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Final Product: Aquatic Adventure Academy


The final product/presentation will be reminiscent of the Entry Events. Students from local elementary and middle schools will attend the Aquatic Adventure Academy, where our students will create educational stations with hands-on activities that teach about their project interest. The final products will include the following:

  • An educational activity:

    • A hands-on activity where you teach younger students about your project

    • It could take many forms, but some ideas are:

      • Science experiments​

      • Interactive 3D models

      • Environmental education lessons

      • Living History exhibits

  • 3D Model / Art Piece:

    • This can be used in your educational piece and could take many forms including:​

      • Boats​

      • New products that address the driving questions

      • Visual / multimedia pieces that make a more compelling educational lesson

      • Videos, documentaries, or photography

  • Research Evidence:

    • Project Proposal

    • Annotated bibliography

    • Field Research (observations, experiences, work with mentors, etc)

    • Photographs, graphics, and video

  • Magazine Article:

    • Create an article with your group regarding your topic

    • At least 500 words per team member

    • Must include some visuals such as photographs, diagrams, links to video.

    • Be sure to use proper formatting (MLA) and cite ALL SOURCES.

  • Service Learning:​

    • Projects should include authentic service work related to the topic​

    • For instance, students could:

      • Volunteer to get water quality data on local waterways​

      • Do invasive species removal

      • Help fund a well-digging project in another country

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