The Water Investigations Program
The Water Investigations Program refines students’ critical and creative thinking skills and environmental position over a year of inquiry about water resources and supply, water use, and water in natural system by helping teachers transform their instructional practices through the integration of STEM disciplines.

Water Investigations Program

"I was impressed with the students’ ability to think on a larger scale. They were expressing a desire to do more… to have a bigger impact.”"
Peter Bartanen, Middle School Science Teacher, Balsz School District

Over four thousand Phoenix Valley middle and high school students have participated in Arizona Project WET's Water Investigations Program (WIP) since 2011. Teachers in the program participate in a three-day summer academy and then subsequent training during the school year to prepare to lead their students through a year of inquiry about Arizona's water resources. The WIP was formalized, following pilot testing, through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

Students study three main topics throughout the school year: Water Resources and Supply, Human Water Use, and Water in the Environment. With each unit, the complexity of students' thinking and understanding about water increases as each lesson builds on previous learning.

Student Installing High Efficiency Aerator

Water Conservation: School and Home Water Audits

WIP students drive positive change using science and engineering to impact their community. After auditing their faucets, collectively, they saved 8.8 million gallons of water in 2012 by changing out aerators at school & in their homes! During the water audit portion of their studies, students learn that technology, not just behavior, is an effective means for saving water.

Students Testing Dissolved Oxygen

Field Investigations

WIP students investigate their own questions in the field and apply their learning from the whole school year to find answers to these questions. After studying the work of different scientists, students design their own investigation and collect real data on a field day. Prior to their field experience, one third of WIP students have never been to a river before! The field investigations provide students an opportunity to do real-world science and connect with the natural world.

Symposium Academy Award Winners

Water Investigations STEM Symposium

The Water Investigations STEM Symposium is an opportunity for students to share what they have learned through a year of studying water. They are encouraged to think critically about what they have learned and offer solutions to real-world problems. Designed to function like a genuine scientific symposium, students are first inspired by a keynote speaker who shares their own science work, and then they move to breakout rooms where each team presents their findings to their peers.

Trained observers evaluate presentations in each room to choose the Academy Award Winners and students evaluate their peers electing the People's Choice Award winner for each breakout room. The awards ceremony, following lunch, caps the day. Students leave charged by the opportunity to communicate their own learning and perspectives. We are delighted to have Phoenix College as a partner and venue for this event.

Thank you:

APW is proud to have collaborated with districts, schools and water providers to bring Water Investigations Program to teachers and, through them, to Arizona students.

In collaboration with . . .


The Water Investigations Program is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors. Consider sponsoring a class or school to participate in this exceptional learning opportunity! Please contact Holly Thomas-Hilburn to learn how you can contribute:

Volunteer with Us:

Volunteers in the Water Investigations Program work with small groups of students (typically 3-6) in school water audits and field investigations. In the fall, volunteers are needed to work with small groups of students in schools all over the Phoenix Valley as they install low-flow aerators and save thousands of gallons of water. In the spring, volunteers serve as "mentor scientists" for student during their field investigations, held at the Hassayampa River Preserve near Wickenberg and the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area in Central Phoenix. Interested volunteers should contact Holly Thomas Hilburn,, 520-621-7477, or use the link below to view and sign up for specific dates.

Contact APW

If you would like more information about the Water Investigations Program, please contact us:
Holly Thomas-Hilburn

Latest News

Aug 10, 2015 | Making Space for Monarchs and Students

Students from across the Phoenix area came together through the... Learn more.

May 08, 2015 | Water Resources Research Center

Arizona Project WET's Water Investigations Program (WIP) helps... Learn more.

Dec 18, 2014 | UA@Work

In December, 120 Gilbert 6th grade students acted to conserve water... Learn more.

Dec 17, 2014 | Town of Gilbert

Gilbert students are learning water conservation while saving... Learn more.

Recognition for APW Water Investigations Program

Aug 07, 2015

APW's Water Investigation Program has been approved to become a... more

Arizona Project WET Sponsors