Sierra Vista Teacher Training

WaterSim Arizona: A Teaching Tool for Rural Arizona

Emily and Liz with the WaterSim kiosk

Emily Grunspan and Liz Marquez from DCDC with the WaterSim Kiosk at the Water/Ways exhibit in Bisbee

Arizona faces new challenges in the 21st century including long-term drought, the impact of climate change, and reduced public funding. These challenges require new approaches to water sustainability that focus on choices, priorities, and smart investments. How will Arizona choose to use our available water to sustain our economy, quality of life, and natural environment?

Do you think you could manage water sustainably during a drought?

Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University has created a water simulation model called WaterSim Arizona. Using water data, this simulation game mimics the water supply and use dynamics for five distinct regions in the state of Arizona. Visitors to the Water/Ways exhibit can use the WaterSim Arizona kiosk to see the impact of their decisions as they balance water supplies and demand in their region. People of all ages will learn that there are tradeoffs as they manage Arizona’s water.

Teaching Tools for Educators

WaterSim Arizona example

WaterSim Arizona example

DCDC is offering teachers access to a classroom version of WaterSim Arizona that students can use to learn more about water in their region and the options and tradeoffs involved in water management. DCDC is also offering curriculum training opportunities to teachers of grades 7-14 in conjunction with the Water/Ways exhibit through the Rural Arizona Water Education Project, supported by a grant from the Ellis Center for Educational Excellence of the Arizona Community Foundation. At each training, teachers are given a baseline understanding of water around the world, at the national level, and then at the state and regional levels. Using this information, teachers are trained to use DCDC’s WaterSim Arizona, a hands-on, immersive visualization tool used to understand the complexity of regional water sustainability. Teachers receive a companion curriculum for use in their classrooms.

Sierra Vista Teacher Training

Sierra Vista teacher training in April

This training also includes the Smithsonian Institution’s WaterStories initiative, which provides a humanities outlet for water education in Arizona. DCDC offers guidance to teachers in the form of equipment and resources for classrooms to develop, record, and share local stories about water from students, their families, and local stakeholders. DCDC is able to compensate teachers for their time and provide support for these programs to be implemented in the classroom.

Thus far, 28 teachers have participated in three training sessions in Sierra Vista and Miami in preparation for the Water/Ways tour stops in Bisbee, Sierra Vista, and Miami. Teachers in attendance came from the host site communities also surrounding communities including Benson, Douglas, Globe and San Carlos. Additional training sessions will be scheduled in communities surrounding future tour sites.

For more information about WaterSim, please contact Emily Grunspan, DCDC Education Coordinator, or visit

Posted in Water/Ways.

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