Water in Extreme Environments

Getting Started

  1. Watch the Videos
  2. Review FAQs, Vocabulary, and Downloads (see below).
  3. Increase interactivity, links to 21st century skills, and more with Additional Educator Resources

Unit at a Glance

Use this resource to quickly check key learning objectives for this unit. Includes Learning Progressions ~ Press image to see enlargements in a new window.


Water in Extreme Environments engages youth in collaborative teams to engineer water filters with basic materials, and by playing a game to learn about where water can be found in our solar system.


Use this list to check terms and definitions for this unit.

Science Snippets

Not a scientist or engineer? That is okay - It takes just a few minutes to get the content you need for supporting youth in this unit. Watch Now.

YouTbe screenshot to show playlist iconAccess the full playlist by tapping the 3-bar menu at the top-right of the video.


Testing the Waters image with graphic of water being used in various ways with a cyclical connection

Engineering Educator Guide

Grades 6–8 Engineering
8 Activities; 1 hour per activity

Back Pocket Activity Essentials – Engineering

Press image to see enlargements.

What's Included?

  • Engineering Educator Guide
  • Engineering Journal
  • Engineering Journal in Spanish
  • Engineering Design Process_Poster
  • Engineering Materials List


Life on Earth requires access to clean water, and as populations grow, the demand for water increases. Youth participating in this unit become water resource engineers as they use the steps of the Engineering Design Process to design creative ways to reuse water.

Engineering Context-Setting Videos for Youth

Show this video during Prep Activity 2 (P2). It is essential to help build context for youth.

How To Videos for Educators

Note: These videos are meant to help educators set up materials. It is recommended that educators DO NOT show the How-To videos to youth in order to promote creativity and encourage multiple solutions to the problem identified in the activity.

YouTbe screenshot to show playlist iconAccess the full playlist by tapping the 3-bar menu at the top-right of the video.


Water in Extreme Environments Science band cover image of a planet, moon, and moon surface

Science Educator Guide

Grades 6–8 Planetary Science
4 Activities; 1 hour per activity

What's Included?

  • Science Educator Guide
  • Science Notebook
  • Planetary Science Cards
  • Poster (web | legal size | large format)


Youth explore how much, how accessible, and how usable water is on earth and elsewhere in our solar system. They consider if water is potentially habitable on other planetary bodies, and propose a planetary body to explore based on evidence of water.

Back Pocket Activity Essentials – Science

Press image to see enlargements.

Science, Engineering, or STEM?

The PLANETS Science and Engineering modules are complementary and help youth integrate engineering, technology, and science; however, each guide can also stand alone.

Additional Resources

Additional Resources for Educators

  • Unit At A Glance
  • Learning Progressions
  • Back Pocket Activity Essentials
  • Tips for Interactivity 
  • Developing 21st Century Skills

Connect with NASA

Additional Resource Links

Going Beyond the Unit

Purpose: Develop deeper planetary science content. Explore additional resources such as STEM careers, extension activities, NASA missions, etc.

Careers at NASA - More than Just Astronauts!

eClips video that explores some of the unique career opportunities at NASA.

Exploring Careers @ NASA

Learn about careers at through internships, fellowships, co-op positions, and competitions

Video Highlights from NASA scientists

SME2: Women in STEM

SEEC Space Exploration Educators Conference

This conference at Space Center Houston is for grades kindergarten to 12th – and not just for science teachers! Strives to use space to teach across the curriculum. The activities presented can be used for science, language arts, mathematics, history, and more. Attend sessions hosted by the actual scientists and engineers working on exciting endeavors like the International Space Station and explorations of Mars and the planets beyond.

Various activities about Mars and water:

Use data from Pathfinder and Viking missions to look at canals on Mars:

Lesson plans to look at water and travel to Mars:

Slide show of oceans in the solar system with good photos and information:

Information about water in the solar system:

Quick little fact sheet about water in the solar system:

Recent article about earth-like planet with water vapor. Free sign up required.

How to mine water from Mars’ surface:

Information about water on the moon, and other general solar system facts. Click on various topics to learn more:

Brief video animating what Mars may have looked like with water:

A simulation of clouds on mars:

A simulation of water on Mars:

Alphabetical list of NASA missions:

Information on future missions from NASA:

Lots of videos that address the intersection between space science and K-12 education:

Look at the importance of space education in the classroom:

Various activities that could be accessed by K-12 educators and families:

Cool NASA Videos

YouTbe screenshot to show playlist iconAccess the full playlist by tapping the 3-bar menu at the top-right of the video.

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