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How much water do we use per minute?

About this lesson

Students will experiment by measuring the capacity of water in different objects to discover how easily water can be wasted.

Year level: 1, 2

Theme: Water conservation

Learning objectives

Students can:
  • measure water capacity of objects
  • discuss how much water we use per minute.

Curriculum links


  • Science involves asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events ACSHE021; ACSHE034
  • Use informal measurements in the collection and recording of observations, with the assistance of digital technologies as appropriate ACSIS026; ACSIS039

Things you will need

Lesson description

Activity 1 – Measuring water capacity

  • Using the Fun with water containers activity sheet have students predict how much water a carton of milk, ice-cream container, bucket or baby bath will hold.    
  • In groups of 4, measure how much water a carton of milk, an ice-cream container, a bucket or a baby bath holds.  
  • Make a class table or chart and make comparisons between the different containers and discuss the differences that you find.    

Activity 2 – How much water per minute?

  • Using the How much water comes from a tap in 1 minute? activity sheet have students turn on a tap to see how long it takes to fill a bucket. This will depend on the flow rate of the water: if the tap is turrned on at full pressure it may take 10-15 seconds to fill a 10L bucket to the brim. Have students record their results.
  • Pose the problem, for example, if it takes 15 seconds to fill a bucket how many 1L ice-cream containers of water could we fill in 1 minute? Have students write their answer down on the activity sheet. Once students have worked out the timing for one bucket of water they can then estimate how many buckets of water would come from the tap in 1 minute, 3 minutes or 10 minutes.

Reflect & summarise

Discuss as a class how students can use this information to influence their own water use at home and at school.

Extension activities

  • Discuss the different types of leaks from a tap (e.g. drip, trickle, stream). Demonstrate these by using a tap in the school grounds.
  • Use a 100mL container to measure how much water is wasted from each leak in one minute (this activity can develop such skills as measuring one minute on the clock, estimating how much water is used and drawing conclusions from the results). If 50mL was wasted in one minute, 3,000mL/3L would be wasted in an hour.
  • Compare the volumes wasted to volumes held by familiar containers (e.g. a 2L ice-cream container or a bucket that holds 10L of water).
  • Students could explore areas of water wastage in the school grounds and investigate whether there are any leaking taps. They should turn off any taps that are leaking or report them to their teacher.
  • Book a water conservation school talk for your class.

Teacher background information

Water use at home

97% of the world’s water is held in oceans, with only 3% fresh water and only 1% of that available for use.

Water is a valuable resource that needs to be used thoughtfully and resourcefully. We use more water than we think in our everyday lives completing day to day tasks.

  • Showers and baths account for 25% of all water used in an average home.
  • The toilet uses 9% of all water used in an average home. Installing a dual flush toilet system can help your household use up to 75% less water every time you flush. Single flush toilets use up to 11 litres per flush, while dual flush toilets use as little as 3 litres per flush.

Fixing leaks

A leaking toilet is the most common leak and can waste up to 25 litres a day. To check for a leak open your cistern and place a few drops of food colouring in the tank. Without flushing it look for colouring in the toilet bowl. If it is getting through you have a leak and it is time to call a Licensed Waterwise Plumber.

Fixing a small leak can save up to 30 litres of water per day. Fixing a large leak can save thousands of litres of water from being wasted.

Did you know?

A running tap can use up to 9L of water per minute. If you keep the tap running while cleaning your teeth you could use up to 7,000L of water per year. 

Key vocabulary

  • Conservation: rational protection of natural resources from destruction
  • Conserve: to preserve or safeguard
  • Efficiency: achieving more (or the same) with fewer resources
  • Sprinkler: a device used for spraying water
  • Stream: a smooth flow
  • Tap: device for controlling the flow of liquid
  • Trickle: a gradual flow