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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. Brought to you in conjunction with DoGoodery, the WestEd K-12 Alliance, and Cal Water, and in partnership with the California Association of Science Educators, the Classroom Challenge is aligned with Common Core State Standards and complementary to the Next Generation Science Standards and includes recommendations on how it can be integrated within your own classroom, while meeting curriculum goals. Through this integration, 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.

The Cal Water H2O Challenge, currently in its seventh year, began as a classroom competition in 2014. To date 250 classrooms have participated in the Classroom Challenge. We are honored and privileged to continue to offer this experience to fourth-sixth grade classrooms in the Cal Water Service area, inviting them to develop and implement solutions for local water issues. Additionally the Classroom Challenge for the second year in a row welcomes school-based clubs to participate as well.

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 or clubs initiate, develop, and implement a 4-8 week-long project (or longer at teacher discretion), focusing on caring for water. This  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, 2021.


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

Eligible classrooms or clubs 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!

New for 2020/2021

Learning Styles:

The Classroom Challenge is evolving to meet your changing needs and to help you bring a relevant, meaningful, project based learning opportunity to your students that transcends distance learning. Whether teaching remotely, in-person, or through a hybrid model, our new expert Teacher Ambassadors and advisors have developed a clear pathway to engage your students in real-world inquiry while helping you meet your curriculum goals.

New Resources:

And we’re here for you! We will now be offering office hours to help you and your class meet your goals. Through the support of our teacher ambassadors, we will be offering virtual meetings along with an updated handbook, new video guides, and additional resources to make your Classroom Challenge an amazing and smooth experience!

Design Over Implementation:

Additionally, understanding the hurdles of distance learning, and the need for an equitable, fair competition, this year's Classroom Challenge shall focus on Designing Solutions to Care for Water. What does that mean for you? Judges will not be seeking fully implemented projects, but looking for complete designs, that have been tested and refined, with the aim to address a local water issue. Perhaps your design will be a way to keep garbage out of the storm drains and prevent it from traveling to the ocean. Maybe your students will design a way to clean up a local creek or waterway. Your students may even create an engineering design for testing or cleaning water on campus. Whatever your students choose to do, you shall have our support, and we look forward to seeing their ideas!