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Classroom Challenge Winners

The Classroom Challenge is no longer active,
but this site subsection with the former program's handbook, resources, and web series remains available as our Teacher Toolkit to help you tackle your local water issues!

Congratulations to our 2021-2022 participating classrooms!

We received many spectacular submissions this year from classrooms throughout California. Once again, our team is proud of the amazing work and dedication demonstrated statewide from each and every participating classroom. Thank you for doing your part to care for California’s water!


Learn about our winning classrooms below!

Grand Prize

Grand Prize Bonita Street Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: Mission: Make Our Oceans Blue Again

TEACHER NAME: Tiffany Rachal

CITY: Carson


Polluted water in the Dominguez Channel made headlines in the fall of 2021 as strong odors emanating from hydrogen sulfide gas in the channel affected Carson and neighboring cities. Many residents and students became ill, with a high incidence of asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and reported ER visits. Even before it came time to brainstorm their topic for the Cal Water H2O Challenge, the water pollution and toxic air from the Dominguez Channel was identified by Rachal’s class as the top issue within their community, and the students were eager to find a way to take action. Rachal’s students began their project by researching local water issues and speaking with local nonprofit organizations. They then began tracking waste activity in their own homes, at school, and in the school cafeteria. The students also experimented with a model landfill to further understand decomposition properties of common waste items. Their research led them to form a new recycling and composting club at their school, C.A.T. (Cleaning and Teaching) CREW, and to purchase a composting tumbler.

Second Place

Second Place Sierra View Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: Infiltration Investigation

TEACHER NAME: Emily Akimoto

CITY: Chico


While studying the drought, students learned about wells drying up and collapsing in their community. Wondering why this was happening and how it could be solved, they began investigating groundwater and how to recharge aquifers. This taught the students about the impact of land development on water infiltration into aquifers, and, learning that there are no regulations on new construction for creating plans to ‘facilitate aquifer recharge,’ students decided to tackle this issue for their project. They met with the Assistant Director of the Butte County Department of Water Resource and Conservation and locals impacted by dried up wells; then researched and designed infiltration ponds and pervious concrete and performed experiments on their effectiveness with water infiltration and durability. The students shared their findings with local construction companies, the State Water Board, and Chico City Council.

Third Place

Third Place Little Chico Creek Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: Little Chico Creek Trees

TEACHER NAME: Kristen Thomas

CITY: Chico


Thomas’s students identified numerous issues around caring for water, but after learning about the drought and its impact on the west, and that the water cycle includes every living thing, including trees, they decided that they wanted to leave a lasting impact on their school and community by protecting and planting more trees. The students started by testing the water quality of Little Chico Creek and planting new sycamore trees to prevent erosion and help filter the water. Thomas’s fifth-graders also taught younger students to care for the trees and wrote letters to their superintendent and principal to persuade them to choose their school for more tree-planting. Finally, the class nominated a 250+ year-old oak tree from campus for the City of Chico’s Heritage Tree list.

Watershed Warriors!

Fourth Place Oak Knoll Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: Watershed Warriors!


CITY: Menlo Park


In studying and researching the limited amount of fresh water on earth, students became inspired to do something to help their local fresh water. Understanding that their local creeks impacted their freshwater supply, they researched their local watershed, and then focused their efforts on helping that watershed by contributing to the preservation of a local creek near their school. They purchased and donated supplies to a local organization for creek habitat restoration and participated in the restoration work at San Francisquito Creek, where the fifth-graders removed invasive species and planted new foliage. They also have worked to educate their community about the importance of keeping local watersheds clean and healthy.

Save Top the Drop

Fifth Place Parkview Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: Save Top the Drop


CITY: Chico


After performing background research on water conservation and reading Governor Newsom’s executive order on lowering water consumption, students became inspired to educate their community on saving water. The students began their project by creating posters and water task logs to educate their peers on water usage and conservation. The fifth-graders then presented to every classroom at their school and developed an art contest around water conservation within the school. Finally, students created videos to teach their parents how to save water and how to get water conservation kits from Cal Water.