for educators

Rooted in academia, we aim to create and share memorable educational experiences with the community in our areas of expertise.

You’ll find a variety of lesson plans and programs on this page that can be used by students and educators, homeschoolers, parents, and environmental educators. Knowledge is meant to be shared! Click the links below to be directed to the appropriate section. 

Table of Contents

Water on Wheels Mobile (WOW)

The WOW Mobile takes visitors on a water journey, covering topics on the Memphis aquifer, water conservation, watershed science, the water cycle and more! The program is tactile and engaging – great for learning. 

The WOW museum is accepting a limited number of in-person requests. 

Students will have the opportunity to ask questions from knowledgeable research center staff. The program is best for 4th graders and aligns with Tennessee State Curriculum Standards, but is available for all ages.

For questions or instructions to reserve, email

Free Lesson Plans

Below are free lessons to use in your classroom or event. Interested in a classroom or event activity guided by a staff member from CAESER? Request programming today! We have a watershed model and groundwater model that we would be happy to demonstrate to your class or group as well as any of the lessons below. Have an idea for a lesson or questions? Email us at 

Groundwater Model

Elementary School Grades (K-5)

Aquifer in a Cup | Edible Aquifer: Grades 3-6

The purpose of this lesson is to build upon the knowledge students may already have about the water cycle and to further educate them on our local water source. In this lesson, students will learn about the Memphis aquifer, the source of their drinking water, and the effects of groundwater pollution through a hands-on activity. Each student will build an aquifer model in a cup to observe the water’s behavior before and after it is “contaminated”. We will introduce new vocabulary and encourage critical thinking. Students can use the information they learn in this lesson to teach their families and to make better choices regarding water conservation and pollution management.


  • AR: 6-ESS2-4/6-ESS3-3
  • MS: E.3.9.3/E.3.10.1/E.3.10.2/E.4.9A.1
  • TN: 3.ESS2.1

Virtual Learning Videos & Questionnaire

  1. Before you watch Video 1: Take this short questionnaire before you watch Video 1!
  2. Video Part 1: water cycle, about groundwater, about
     the Memphis aquifer, water conservation
  3. Video Part 2: Build an Edible Aquifer!
    1. You will need: clear cup, crushed ice or cookies, ice cream, water or soda, food coloring, straw
  4. After you watch Video 2: Take this short questionnaire after you watch Video 1 so we know what you learn!
Water Cycle Lessons: Grades 1-5

There are multiple water cycle activities to choose from, with the lesson plan covering the Water Cycle Wheel and Water Cycle in a Bag. Sing-a-long links are included in the lesson plan – one is a rap, the other is folk. Conduct them all for a greater understanding of the water cycle! 

These activities can be done in the classroom but are also great activity for virtual learning. All can be done at home! 


  • AR: 6-ESS2-4/6-ESS3-3
  • MS: E.3.9.3/E.3.10.1/E.3.10.2/E.4.9A.1
  • TN: 2.ESS1, 3.ESS2.1 

Water Cycle Wheel

Create the Water Cycle in a Bag

Build a Water Cycle Model

Another great activity for virtual learning – it allows students to use their creativity! 

Build a model of the water cycle using using materials that can be found at home. What can represent a cloud? We used coffee filters! What about the ground? Let students’ imagination roam as they create a model containing all the water cycle processes.


  • AR: 6-ESS2-4/6-ESS3-3
  • MS: E.3.9.3/E.3.10.1/E.3.10.2/E.4.9A.1
  • TN: 2.ESS1, 3.ESS2.1 


Watch on YouTube

Water Cycle Bracelet

Another great way for students to experience the water cycle is this water bracelet activity.  This activity shows students that the water cycle is not the same steps in the same order every time, plus they have a bracelet when they are done.


  • AR: ESS2.C
  • MS: E.4.9A.1
  • TN: 3.ESS2.1
Cloud in a Jar

Though this lesson is under elementary school, everyone enjoys this lesson no matter the age. What we love about this one is you are creating an actual cloud in a jar just like nature does in the sky


  • AR: ESS2.C
  • MS: E.4.9A.1
  • TN: 3.ETS2 3.ESS2.1
Keep your dream or safe air concept.  Hand hold glass jar with a rainy cloud inside and a blue sky background
Water Usage and Conservation: Grades 3-4

These lesson plans were created for teachers to build their students’ knowledge about the Earth’s water and how it is used. The link contains three lesson plans for grades 3 and 4 that may be used as an entire unit, or as stand-alone activitiesStudents will have a better understanding of the water cycle, how we use water, and why water conservation is important. This knowledge will help students learn what they can do to protect the Earth.   


  • AR: 6-ESS2-4/6-ESS3-3
  • MS: E.3.9.3/E.3.10.1/E.3.10.2/E.4.9A.1
  • TN: 2.ESS1, 3.ESS2, 4.ESS3, 4.ETS2
Pouncer the Tiger Fish

Pouncer the Tiger Fish activity gives students a visual representation of how different activities in a watershed can have an effect in streams and rivers and the aquatic life in them. This can be an engagement activity to lead into another lesson, water testing or watershed lesson for example. You can also use this water as the polluted water in a DIY water filter lesson.


  • AR: 6-ESS3-3
  • MS: L.2.3A.1/L.3.4
  • TN: 2.LS2.2
DIY Watershed

Don’t have a watershed model? Then make your own! In this lesson students will make their own watershed model and use it to model non-point source pollution.


  • AR: 5-ESS2-1, 5-ESS3-1, 6-ESS2-4, 6-ESS3-3
  • MS: E.5.10.1
  • TN: 4.ESS3.1, 4.ESS2.1, GEO.ESS2.12
Down the Drain (Sewers and Storm Drains): Grades 4-6

The purpose of this lesson is to build upon the knowledge students already  have about the water cycle and to further educate them on where their water comes from and where it goes once they have used it. Students will identify the differences between sewer drains and storm drains , evaluate the ecological damages that occur from storm drain dumping, will create a PSA informing the public about the importance of proper waste disposal.


  • AR: 5-ESS2/6-ESS2/6-ESS3
  • MS: E.4.9A.1/E4.9C/E.5.10/L.6.3
  • TN: 4.ESS3/4ETS2/5PS2/5ETS2/6.LS2

Middle School Grades (6-8)

The Global Water Crisis: Grades 6-8

The purpose of this lesson is to build upon and expand the knowledge student have covering the global water crisis and why it’s important. Students will record information they learn from the video, evaluate and discuss the world’s water crisis, then write a persuasive letter to their community leaders (mayor, governor, etc.) informing them of ways they can work to resolve the water crisis locally.  


  • AR: 6-ESS2/6-ESS3/7-ESS3-2/
  • MS: L.6.3/ L7.3/E7.9B/E.8.10
  • TN: 6.LS2/ 8.ESS3

This 18-minute video gives students an overview of the water issues throughout the world. The lesson plans and supporting documents allow students to form their own thoughts, understandings, and potential solutions!

Waste Not Want Not
  • In this activity students get up and move around while demonstrating ways we waste water and ways we can conserve water. 
  • Waste Not Want Not Lesson Plan


  • AR: 6-ESS3-4
  • MS: E.5.10.1
  • TN: 6.LS4.2
DIY Water Filter

In this lesson students will engineer a water filter from given to supplies and test to see which one filter polluted water the best.  


  • AR: 6-ESS3-3
  • MS: L.7.3.5
  • TN: 6.LS4.2/6.ETS1.2
Starburst Rock Cycle

Why are we talking about geology? Because geology is a part of hydrology! In this lesson students will model the rock cycle with Starburst.


  • AR: 7-ESS2-1
  • MS: E.8.7.2/ E.3.7A(adjust lesson for age)
  • TN: 8.ESS2.3
Hot Spots

Did you know it was a hot spot that helped the Memphis aquifer form? In this lesson students will model how a hot spot can deform the Earth’s crust.


  • AR: 7-ESS2-2
  • MS: E.8.9A.1
  • TN: 8.ESS2.4/ 8.ESS2.5/ 8.ESS3.2/ EVSC.ESS2.1
DIY Groundwater Model

In this activity, students will make a groundwater model. This model will help them see how water enters an aquifer, how water flows underground, and how groundwater interacts with surface water.


  • AR: 6-ESS2-4, 6-ESS3-3, 6-ESS3-4, 7-ESS3-1, ES-ESS2-2, ES-ESS2-5
  • MS: E.8.9A.7, ESS.3.4
  • TN: 6.ESS3.1, 6.ESS2.4, 8.ESS3.1, GEO.ESS2.10
memphis aquifer contamination

High School Grades (9-12)

Coming Soon!

Transportation Careers

What does it mean to have a career in transportation?

Introduce your students to career opportunities in transportation! Transportation and Logistics, one of CAESER’s four divisions, conducts research in key ares of transportation and supply chain logistics areas. The industry has many different career fields! 

Ways to spread the word:

  1. Tell your students about Girls Experiencing Engineering (GEE)! GEE is a fast-paced, interactive summer program that seeks to instill young women with confidence, interest, and awareness of the wide array of career opportunities within science, technology, and engineering fields. This is achieved through hands-on, ‘real world’ project based curriculum and dynamic professional engineers serving as guest speakers in the program.  
  2. Get involved with Southeast Transportation Workforce Center (SETWC)! SETWC is part of the National Network for Transportation Workforce, established in 2014 through funding from the US Department of Transportation (US DOT). SETWC coordinates regional programming to public-private partnerships to ensure that students and persons seeking workforce reentry, career transition, or career advancement are aware of opportunities, required education, skills, training, and ladders to success within the regional transportation workforce.

Other Resources

West Tennessee STEM Hub

West TN STEM Hub features a variety of community-engaged programs, all of which foster the concept of STEM for All.

There are numerous pathways and entry points to excellent STEM careers that offer opportunities for students with varied strengths, interests, and backgrounds!

Local Memphis Environmental Education
  • Wolf River Conservancy
    • The Wolf River Conservancy is proud to provide free environmental education programming to K-12 students in the Wolf River Watershed, in Shelby County Schools, and throughout the Mid South.  All programs reinforce education standards used in Shelby County Schools.  There is no cost for programmingContact WRC Education Director Cathy Justis for more information, 
  • Clean Memphis
    • Clean Memphis offers environmentally-themed presentations that are hands-on, student-centered, and bring to life some of the aspects of the local environment to create a sense of place. This free programming is designed to reinforce existing standards presented in schools throughout Shelby County.
  • Memphis City Beautiful
    • Memphis City Beautiful is the oldest beautification commission in the United States focused on providing public education programs and other services designed to encourage all members of our community to take responsibility for improving the environment in which they live.  Memphis City Beautiful offers service-learning opportunities for students, leads the Beautify your school annual competition, and the Great American Cleanup in the Memphis Area.  To learn more about lessons and program activites contact program coordinators Cyndy Grivich Tucker at and David M. Burgess at 
  • Big Green Memphis
    • Big Green builds Learning Gardens in schools across the nation to create community through food. Learning Gardens are designed to be catalysts for community-wide behavioral improvements in childhood nutrition, socialization and student achievement.  There are Learning Gardens in 142 Memphis schools!
  • City of Memphis Storm Water
    • The Storm Water Program works to provide public education and outreach regarding storm water issues. A great way to get involved is by adopting a storm drain! Your class can help put a face and name to storm drains and give them a voice!

CAESER, part of the UofM’s Herff College of Engineering, encourages all students to engage in engineering curriculum. Engineers innovators and inventors of the past, present and future. There are many different branches of engineering to explore! 

Visit the extensive website of engineering activities and lesson plans for all K-12 students. 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The federal agency tasked with protecting human health and the environment, including water, air, and land in the USA.

The EPA has K-12 lessons on topics such as: water quality, climate change, ecosystems and health.