Drawing Water: Collaborative Artworks

Designed for the NYC and NYC Watersheds Trout in the Classroom program

Made possible with funds from the Catskill Watershed Corporation in partnership with New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Conceived and written by Emily Hartzell, TIC teacher

To help students understand the NYC water supply system, to express their scientific knowledge through art, and to work collaboratively.

    The clean cold streams of the Catskill Mountains provide an ideal habitat for trout and a reliable source of drinking water for over 8 million New York City residents.  The health of a stream depends on many factors including vegetation, surrounding land, forested cover and substrate.  New York City's watershed steams and surrounding lands are monitored and taken care of in order to protect the valuable resource of clean, cool and fresh water.  The system of reservoirs and aqueducts that then collects and delivers water to New York City is extensive and vast.

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, paper, markers, tape, and other art supplies


  1. Together, read The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks by Joanna Cole and Bruce
    Degen.  Be sure to make note of each element of the water supply system.
  2. Divide your class into teams.  Each team is responsible for drawing a complete water supply systems.  Each team member, therefore, is responsible for drawing one or more components of the water supply system, including clouds, precipitation, streams, reservoirs, dams, aqueducts, water tunnels, treatment facilities, water mains, and water consumers.  As they draw, the students must keep in mind that their drawings should eventually connect, and water should flow all the way from the mountains to the tap.
  3. Have each team connect their drawings into a comprehensive system picture.
  4. Each team should then present their collaborative artwork.

What was easy about this project?  What was difficult?  How was making the art like creating and managing the water system in real life?

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