How do we provide the world's growing population with enough water to drink? Scientists are using new technology to answer this question. 

About This Video

Grade level: 6-10
Length: 2 minutes
NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: MS-ESS3.A, MS-ESS3.C, MS-EST1.A

In this video, we'll explore the pros and cons of desalination: the process of separating water and salt molecules from seawater to create drinking water. Below are discussion questions you can use in the classroom in conjunction with this video to engage your students with this innovative technology.

Video Discussion Questions

  1. What is desalination?  Why might we want to utilize desalination?
  2. Do you think desalination is an option everywhere?  Why or why not?
  3. What are two ways that water can be desalinated?
  4. What are some of the benefits of desalination?
  5. What are some of the drawbacks of desalination? Are there any potential solutions to these drawbacks?  

Science Texts for Students

Use this resource to ground your understanding before integrating this video into your lesson. Alternatively, allow your students to practice close reading of scientific texts by passing out the article and the empty version of the chart—let them do the work!

Because the issues we're exploring in Flipside Science are complex, we've evaluated how the solution fares across three important dimensions: the environment, the economy, and society.


Accompanying Activity: Sustainable Water Solutions

Weighing the pros and cons

Weighing the Pros and Cons
How do we assess the benefits and drawbacks of various solutions to a problem? To decide how one potential solution compares to another, we have to consider the pros and cons of each from many dimensions: environmental, social, cultural, and economic. In this activity, students will work together to map out the strengths and limitations of potential solutions to some important water use and conservation issues.

Connections to the Next Generation Science Standards

While this video doesn't necessarily cover the following standards in depth, it is a compelling resource you can use to supplement your curriculum that does.

Disciplinary Core Ideas (Grades 6-8):

  • MS-ESS3.A: Natural Resources
  • MS-ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

  • MS-EST1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

Crosscutting Concepts (Grades 6-8):

  • Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World

Fresh Solutions: About This Unit

Humans depend on water, and our need for this precious resource is growing alongside our population. How will we meet the needs of the future without harming the environment? We'll explore the environmental issues related to our water use and how simple choices we make impact our planet.This unit introduces students to the process of design thinking, and culminates in a design thinking challenge related to water conservation issues.


Earth's Water: A Drop in Your Cup
In this activity, learn how water is distributed across different sources, how much can be used by humans, and how to brainstorm ways to decrease usage of fresh water.

KQED Science: Why Isn’t Desalination the Answer to All California’s Water Problems?
This articles features easy-to-read infographics and maps, and includes audio, too!

Can Desalination Counter the Drought?
While less appropriate for middle schoolers, this 2015 article from the New Yorker may be interesting for educators.

Share This