The Big Business of Bottled Water

Teacher(s): Erica Beaton, Brooke Holt, David Stuart, and Steven Vree
Main Contact: Erica Beaton Email:
Date: Dec. 3, 2011 Building: Cedar Springs High School Grade Level: 9th and 10th Grades
First Trimester: __ X__          Second Trimester: __________           Third Trimester: __________
First Semester: ___________           Second Semester: __________

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Project Overview

Give a brief overview of the project you are planning.

“In the past 20 years, the bottled water industry…has carefully planned marketing schemes to scare [people] into believing that tap water was bad for your health, untrendy, not refreshing and inaccessible. The bottled water industry targets youth, mothers, the elderly, athletes, and the general public, eventually misleading and seducing people to opt for bottled water over tap water. Public water systems are bottled water’s biggest competitors. The expanding bottled water market erodes people’s confidence in their public water systems, paving the way for higher prices and corporate control of our water resources.” (From

As a result of our study, students and teacher utilize a 21st Century process to develop advocacy campaigns to raise awareness about bottled water marketing manipulations.


Effective Practice: MEANINGFUL SERVICE

Service learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.

What community need will you address and how did you determine the need?

Students will address the need to stop the privatization of public resources and ensure that all people can exercise their right to water. Students will learn to apply knowledge and skills acquired in Humanities 10 and build upon previous Project-Based Service Learning water projects during ninth grade.

What service will you provide to address the need?

Students will serve the school and community. Students will create a water bottle boycott across the district in an effort to “Take Back the Tap.”


Effective Practice: LINK TO CURRICULUM

Service learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.

How is this project related to your curriculum?

• Sophomore Composition & Literature Standards

  • Read complex informational text
  • Research and write argumentative text’
  • Organize and create informative visual texts

• U.S. History Standards

  • Acquire knowledge of the development of Industrialization and Big Business in America during 1865 to 1914.
  • Determine geographic, social, political, technological, and economical impact of water bottle production.

• Environmental Biology

  • Acquire knowledge regarding the life cycle of a product

• Communications Standards

  • Prepare and present spoken, written, and visual texts to persuade students and staff members across the district.

• Technology Standards

  • Design and produce online information sites
  • Stimulate and maintain water bottle boycott through social media

What are the educational goals?

The students will:
• Explore 21st Century problems
• Develop a solution to 21st Century issues related to:

  • waste, sustainability, water and resource management

• Build and develop new employability and life skills
• Provide meaningful service to their school and families in their community
• Encourage students and families to drink and enjoy safe tap water
• Demonstrate the use of reusable tap water bottles
• Communicate with students, families, and community groups about tap water


Curriculum Crafter Connections


English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Informational Text » Grade 9-10
• RI.9-10.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
• RI.9-10.6. Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
• RI.9-10.8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

History/Social Studies Standards » Grades 9-10
• RH.9-10.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
• RH.9-10.6. Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
• RH.9-10.7. Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.

Environmental Biology » Grades 9-10
• E2.4d Describe the life cycle of a product, including the resources, production, packaging, transportation, disposal, and pollution.

Communication » Grades 9-10
• SL.9-10.1. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
• SL.9-10.2. Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
• SL.9-10.4. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
• SL.9-10.5. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
• SL.9-10.6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Technology » Grades 9-10
• 9-12.CI.2. create a web page
• 9-12.CI.3. use a variety of media and formats to design, develop, publish, and present projects (e.g., newsletters, websites, presentations, photo galleries)
• 9-12.CC.2. use available technologies (e.g., desktop conferencing, e-mail, videoconferencing, instant messaging) to communicate with others on a class assignment or project
• 9-12.CC.3. collaborate in content-related projects that integrate a variety of media (e.g., print, audio, video, graphic, simulations, and models)
• 9-12.RI.4. distinguish between fact, opinion, point of view, and inference
• 9-12.RI.5 evaluate information found in selected online sources on the basis of accuracy and validity
• 9-12.RI.6. evaluate resources for stereotyping, prejudice, and misrepresentation
• 9-12.RI.7. understand that using information from a single internet source might result in the reporting of erroneous facts and that multiple sources must always be researched

Additional State Standards and Benchmarks

List standards and benchmarks met by this project. (You may attach a copy of the Content Standards and Benchmarks highlighting the items met by this project.)


Effective Practice: REFLECTION

Service learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.

What form(s) of reflection will you use with the students to help them identify what they have learned and accomplished?

• Reflective Essays
Student Portfolios, including:

  • Designs
  • Drawings
  • Photographs
  • Screenshots
  • Essays
  • Websites
  • Videos

• Classroom Presentations
• Community and School Board Presentations


Effective Practice: DIVERSITY

Service learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.

What types of diverse perspectives and experiences will be explored as part of your project?

(i.e.: cultural, generational, abilities/disabilities, learning styles, etc)

Generational Diversity: Students will work to understand how to communicate with diverse generational groups across the district, from elementary students to School Board members.


Effective Practice: YOUTH VOICE

Service learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service learning experiences with guidance from adults.

How will students gain ownership of the project?

Through social media and online informational sites, students will speak to other classmates, the school board, and community groups about their water bottle boycott to “Take Back the Tap.” This project will be visible each day in the classroom and school. The project teaches students to use their voices to speak out against big business manipulation.



Service learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.

Who will you partner with for this project?

Organization: Inside the Bottle  ( )

Organization: Think Outside the Bottle  ( )

Dr. Eric Snyder, Aquatic Biology Professor, Grand Valley State University, Phone: (616) 331-2417, Email:


  • Dave Stuart, Humanities Teacher, Cedar Springs High School
  • Erica Beaton, Humanities Teacher, CSHS
  • Brooke Holt, Algebra/Geometry Teacher, CSHS
  • Steve Vree, Environmental Biology, CSHS

Students: Tech 21 Academy

How will students benefit from this partnership?

Students will:
• Explore new 21st Century career pathways and job skills
• Apply and strengthen academic skills to solve real life problems
• Address the needs of the community and provide solutions to community issues
• Encouraged to expand their worldview
• Grow in four highly-predictive character strengths, as identified by Seligman and Peterson. The four strengths will be focusing on are curiosity, gratitude, social intelligence, and optimism.

How will the partner benefit from this collaboration?

As advocacy organizations, Take Back the Tap and Think Outside the Bottle will benefit from an increase in participants raising awareness across the nation. Dr. Eric Snyder, as an educator, will benefit by enlightening young adults on a topic in which he feels passionate as well as providing background knowledge to potential GVSU students.



Service learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.

How will you assess the student learning goals?

Academic goals in English, History, Science, Communications, and Technology will be measured through assessments in the subject areas. Participation and contributions to the project will be measure through portfolio products.

How will you assess your service goals?

Service will be measured through:
• the amount of water bottle waste reduction
• the increased use of reusable water bottles
• the number of hours students contributed to the service project
• the number of interactions or contacts with people involved in the project
the portfolio documentation of the services provided to the school or community



Service learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.

How will you prepare students for this experience?

Students will study:

• English, History, Science, Communications, and Technology related to the project

What are some sample possible activities students might do as part of this project?

• Watch and analyze the following documentaries:

  • Flow
  • Tapped
  • “Story of Bottled Water” on YouTube

• Read, infer, interpret, and draw conclusion from the following informational texts:

  • Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It, by Elizabeth Royte
  • Inside the Bottle: An Expose on the Bottled Water Industry, by Tony Clarke



The three arms of sustainability are environmental stewardship, economic growth, and social progress. Think planet, profit, and people.

Describe how your project addresses the issue of sustainability?

Eliminating or reducing the use of use of disposable water bottles in our community speaks directly to environmental stewardship. Educating the community about manipulation by big business to control our water resources will make changes in economics and social progress.