Valley Water goes virtual with learning opportunities for all ages

SAN JOSE – As Santa Clara County contends with the global COVID-19 public health crisis, Valley Water is continuing to engage with its community through a variety of online learning programs. Valley Water is offering education programs for children of all ages, including a watershed mapping exercise, a water education storytime for preschool-age children, and virtual tours of our facilities and infrastructure which are open to the public.

“It’s important that we continue to serve our community during this health emergency,” said Nai Hsueh, Chair of the Valley Water Board of Directors. “We want to continue to support educators, students and the community at large while we stay at home. And we look forward to resuming our-in person engagements with the community once we overcome this public health crisis.”

Fifth-grade students from Robert Sanders Elementary School in San Jose made it “rain” in their homes during a virtual classroom earlier this month.

Led by members of Valley Water’s Education Outreach team, students created a 3D map of a watershed to understand how water travels in their community. For some students, the highlight was simulating a rainstorm over their finished maps.

“I learned how water runs through mountains and hills,” said Miranda, a fifth-grade student at Robert Sanders Elementary. “My favorite part was when we poured the water on the mountains of the watershed map.”

Valley Water’s Education Outreach team reaches about 13,000 students during the academic year, and an additional 5,000 members of the community. Classroom presentations that were scheduled between March and May are now being done in a virtual platform when possible.

Along with Valley Water’s education efforts, the agency is offering two unique, free virtual tours of its infrastructure facilities. The water infrastructure tour allows residents to learn about how some of our water infrastructure works together to provide safe, clean drinking water to residents of Santa Clara County. The Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center tour offers people an up-close look at the advanced treatment processes and the role of recycled and purified water as a future sustainable water supply.

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During a recent virtual water infrastructure tour, guests were asked a few trivia questions related to the world of water while learning about water treatment plants, Anderson Dam and the proposed Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project.

“As a wheelchair user, I was thrilled to be able to take the Virtual Water Infrastructure Tour,” said Rev. Rowan Fairgrove. “I really hope it will continue to be offered even after the lockdown ends.”

During the online presentation to the fifth-grade class from Robert Sanders Elementary, members of Valley Water’s Education Outreach team helped the students create a watershed map using a piece of paper, markers and a glass of water. Barbara Powell, a fifth-grade teacher at Robert Sanders Elementary, served as the facilitator and worked with the Valley Water education team in guiding the lesson.

Each student crumpled a piece of paper and then smoothed it out. They used markers to draw ridgelines, waterways, vegetation, schools and homes. Students then dipped their fingers in the water and made it rain on their map, giving students a great visual of how water flows through a watershed.

During the lesson students also learned about pollution and the importance of recycling, conservation and flood safety.

“Many of the students went to science camp so this helped access their prior knowledge and captured their attention,” Powell said. “The program supported educational science standards and was engaging for the fifth graders. All of the students want to do another presentation.”

  • Valley Water is currently hosting “Watershed Wednesdays,” a 3D watershed lesson online for any interested students. To register, visit our website at vorg/news-events/events
  • Teachers and parents interested in more information about virtual learning opportunities for students of all ages are encouraged to visit Valley Water’s distance learning education resource page at
  • For information and registration information on Valley Water’s virtual tours, visit our website at
  • Valley Water is also hosting a story time for children ages 3-5. Families are invited to meet the Little Blue Hen and learn how she saves water every day! Children will experience new concepts and expand their water vocabulary as they discover ways to save water. To obtain a free ticket, visit:

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