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Public art draws attention to water pollution problems (Introduction)

SUBJECTS Language Arts, Media, Science, Social Studies, Visual Arts
GRADE LEVEL Primary (K-3) / Junior (4-6) / Intermediate (7-8) / Senior (9-12)
PLEDGE 1 - Protection of Water

Resources Needed:

1. Link to: CBC Article: Look down! Public art draws attention to water pollution problems

2. Background Information:

    • Storm drains are metal grates found on city streets designed to quickly collect and divert rainwater and snowmelt away from city streets in order to prevent flooding. This untreated water flows directly into nearby rivers, creeks or oceans.
    • Sewers are part of a system that collects sewage wastewater from homes and businesses carrying it to a water treatment plant where it is treated and cleaned before being released back into the local natural body of water.


  1. Begin with a discussion about public art. Ask students to discuss (with a partner or in a small group) what they think public art is, examples of where they’ve seen public art, and what they think the purpose of public art may be. Have groups share their ideas with the class.
  2. Ask students if they are familiar with storm drains and how they are different from sewers. If students are not sure, discuss the difference (see notes above under Resources).


1. Show the image of the painted storm drain from the article, telling students this is an example of public art using a storm drain. In small groups, students can discuss:

    • What makes this an effective way to raise awareness of water pollution?
    • Knowing that anything collected by a storm drain will flow directly into the local natural water source, what are some potential problems that could arise?
  1. Have students read the article and then revisit the above questions.

Follow Up Activities:

1. Have students look for and share examples of public art that attempt to raise awareness of environmental issues. What are the issues and tell how the art is effective in sharing its intended message?