About the Classroom Challenge


Photograph of smiling 5th grade students with the Pacific ocean at their backs.  A few children are raising their hands.

Cal Water H2O Challenge's Classroom Challenge is a project-based, environmentally-focused competition for classrooms, grades 4-6. Designed in conjunction with NAAEE, the WestEd K-12 Alliance, and Cal Water, and aligned with the Common Core State Standards and complementary to the Next Generation Science Standards, the Classroom Challenge offers a unique opportunity for upper elementary teachers to facilitate their students’ learning of standards-based content, while developing the core understanding of environmental principles necessary to becoming science-literate citizens.

Get your classroom involved today. Tackle a local issue through project-based learning and make a difference in your community!

The Project

Photograph of a 5th grade girls, wearing glasses and holding a test tube.

The students of participating classrooms initiate, develop, and implement a 4-8 week-long project (or longer at teacher discretion), focusing on caring for water. This class-based project explores water as a global resource and as a local resource, while tackling a local water problem in an individual and community-based endeavor.

A handbook can be found in our resources, including a guide for the flow of the project, and sample lesson plans.

Upon completion of the project, students create a final portfolio documenting their work. This portfolio, along with accompanying cover sheets, student reflections, and a teacher reflection, constitute the final submission. Sample Portfolios can be found here.

Submissions are due February 28, 2019.

Educational Validity

Photograph of two 5th graders, seated at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean, backs to the camera, clipboards in hand.

Curriculum Alignment

Cal Water H2O Challenge's Classroom Challenge was designed in collaboration with the WestEd / K-12 Alliance to ensure a educationally sound curriculum that aligns with Common Core State Standards and is complementary to the Next Generation Science Standards. In aligning the curriculum, sample lesson plans were developed incoproating these guidelines.

Project-Based Learning

Developed with the help of the WestEd / K-12 Alliance and the North American Association for Environmental Education, our project-based learning model offers an effective and engaging manner to inspire students to community action while achieving curriculum standards.

Objective Rubric

Judging of the competition will be conducted by a panel of experts working in education and/or an environmental field and will use an objective rubric, devleoped with the help of the West Ed / K-12 Alliance. This rubric evaluates the water topic choice, project goals, action plan, and outcomes, long term benefits, integration with student learning and curriculum, student participation, impact on student learning, presentation, and impact on teacher practice.


Photograph of a large group of students ascending a hill on a sunny day, brown grasslands on either edge of the trail.

Eligible classrooms must be:

  • Grades 4, 5, and/or 6
  • Registered by their teacher
  • Conducting a water-based project
  • Focusing on caring for water (conservation, quality, supply, etc.)
  • Based in a Cal Water Service Area - Check for Your School!
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