In school water education program

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) update

Please note:  the Smarter with our Water in-school water education program is currently unavailable due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) restrictions.

Council offers a free-of-charge, engaging and interactive water education program to all schools (Prep to Year 12) throughout the Cairns region.

In school program

The 'Smarter with our Water' ( PDF, 0.45 MB ) education program is designed and delivered by qualified educators to encourage a greater appreciation for Cairns water plus a deeper understanding as to why our water is too precious to waste.

Available: Monday and Tuesday.

*Due to set up and pack up times, schools are encouraged to maximise the program over a 48hour (2 day) period. Activities are modified according to year levels and curriculum requirements.

Select one or more of our specialist lessons and book now to secure your place.

Lesson duration: 60mins

Program 1: Hills to Home

Being surrounded with beautiful creeks, dams, waterfalls, beaches and with the Great Barrier Reef on our doorstep, it is easy to forget what a precious resource water is and how lucky we are to live in Cairns! In this fun and engaging program, students will follow the journey of our drinking water from the hills to their homes and discover how fortunate we are to have amazing clean, safe drinking water on tap. Students consider how we use water, and what actions we can take to conserve water both now and in the future. Through role-play and games, students investigate how different decisions and actions greatly change the amount of water we use, and the impact this has on our community. It’s never too late to be smarter with our water!

Key ideas:
  • water cycle
  • needs vs wants
  • competing interests
  • limited resources
  • water treatment process
  • water conservation

Curriculum links: Lower Primary: ACSHE022; ACSHE035; ACSIS039; ACSSU032 and Upper Primary: ACHASSK119; ACHASSK120; ACHASSK121; ACHASSK149; ACHASSK150; ACHASSK151

Program 2: Connecting through our Catchment

No trip to the Great Barrier Reef is complete without a visit from Mobi and his WaterWhys Van. Learn about local initiatives and the role of science in protecting the Great Barrier Reef. In this inquiry-based program, students identify the features of their catchment before entering the WET lab to discover what tools scientist use and the signs they look for when monitoring the health of our catchment. As citizen scientists, investigate what a ‘healthy’ catchment looks like and use all your senses to decide what contaminants threaten our waterways. In order to board our (imaginary) reef boat with golden snorkel and fins students must first decide what actions to take to protect their local catchment. We all have a role to play in protecting the Great Barrier Reef. What will you do?

Key ideas:
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • caring for catchments
  • contaminants
  • water quality
  • monitoring
  • civics and citizenship
  • interpreting data
  • environmental stewardship

Curriculum links: Upper Primary: ACSHE062; ACSSU075; ACSHE083; ACSHE081; ACSHE100; ACSIS087; ACSIS104 and Secondary: ACSES033; ACSES035; ACSES042; ACSES043

Program 3: The Value of Water

The global distribution, availability and use of freshwater resources continue to change over time. Bottled water sales have doubled in the past 15 years, despite growing concerns about our reliance on single use plastics. This program kicks o. with students exploring their own personal use of bottled water, leading into an evaluation between bottled water, drinking water and treated wastewater (recycled) water. Through an interactive presentation, students are able to follow the Cairns drinking water treatment process, from source to tap, and gain an appreciation for our ‘pristine’ water supplies here in Cairns. Students will also get an insight into “What happens to the water that goes down our household drains?” and a new appreciation for the science behind wastewater treatment. Students consider how scientific innovations in wastewater treatment could provide solutions to contemporary issues and are asked, “What lessons can be learned from the bottled water industry?”

Key ideas:
  • drinking water and wastewater treatment processes
  • drink water quality standards
  • minimising water wastage
  • water security
  • global water trends
  • interpreting data
  • climate change

Curriculum links: Secondary: ACSSU113; ACSSU116; ACSHE120; ACSHE121; ACHGK040

How to book

Download and complete a WET Van Booking Application ( DOCX, 0.2 MB ) form to request a visit to your school and for all full terms and conditions.

For all inquiries please contact Polly or Danora by emailing

Local Cairns water information & resources

Lesson plans for teachers

WaterWhys Cairns lesson plans
Mobi's Catchment Challenge lesson plans

The Caring for Your Catchment Unit is divided into the following lessons and accompanied by a student workbook (coming soon) to compliment the lessons.


The Cairns Drinking Water Poster ( PDF, 1.88 MB ) gives a great overview of the journey of Cairns water from the clouds to your tap.

Follow what happens to the water that gets flushed down your toilet and drains with the Cairns Wastewater Treatment Poster ( PDF, 0.91 MB ).


Play a game of Fills and Spills ( PDF, 1.68 MB ) to discover water saving actions.

Make your own water story   ( PDF, 2.38 MB )showing how water travels from the hills to your home.

Water Bingo   ( PDF, 2.69 MB )will give you a new appreciation of all the amazing water places we have here in Cairns and surrounds.

How many buckets can you save? find out by making the water savings chatterbox ( PDF, 1.18 MB ) and play with friends.


Please view the Cairns Regional Council YouTube education resources:

Mobi's Catchment Challenge

Mobi's Catchment Challenge online activities encourage individuals and schools to access and understand the live data from the Saltwater Creek gauging station that is generated through the project's smart technology.

Supporting teacher lesson plans and student workbooks can be found in the lesson plan section.

Other water education resources

The Queensland Government's water wise program has a number of resources to assist schools and community groups in saving water.

Last updated: 22 September 2020