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Leaky Bucket Buddies

In this game, students learn of the accumulative effect of small leaks as two teams race against each other to fill a pail with water. One team has secret, small leaks in their buckets and so will be at a disadvantage.

This game leads to a discussion of the importance of water conservation.

We’re very lucky to have running water in our homes. The United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) says that more than one billion people, 20 per cent of the world’s population, don’t have water that’s safe for drinking, personal hygiene and domestic use. What’s more, nearly 3 billion people don’t have adequate sanitation facilities.

Even though a drop of water does not seem like a lot, a dripping tap can waste more than 190 L of water a day. That’s the same amount of water as:

  • Flushing a toilet eight or more times.
  • Running a dishwasher twice on full cycle.
  • Taking one 19 minute shower. 

Although it seems like there is water everywhere, especially during rainy seasons in Canada, it is not always easy to conserve and store large amounts of water.

The water we store in reservoirs, or use in rivers and ground water systems, is replenished at a specific rate depending on how much mountain ice melts and how much it rains. This makes it possible for us to use water at a quicker rate than it is replenished. With an increasing population and increasing water demand, this becomes a greater issue. When we reduce the water we use or prevent wasteful use of water, we can sustainibly help keep our water sources around for generations.


  • Describe methods and the importance of water conservation.


  • Per Student:
    yogurt container (half with holes discreetly poked through the bottoms)

  • Per Class:
    4 large, identical buckets

Key Questions

  • Why does one bucket fill up faster than another?
  • Can you think places that leak water in the school? At home?
  • What can we do to fix these leaks? Is it expensive?

What To Do


  1. Fill 2 of the buckets with equal amounts of water.
  2. Place empty buckets at one end of the classroom.
  3. Place full buckets opposite the empty ones.
  4. Divide the class into two teams.
  5. Hand out the yogurt containers to students. One team should receive the intact containers; the other team should receive the leaky containers. Keep this a secret.


  1. Have students form a line with their team between a full bucket and an empty one.
  2. The students closest to the bucket full of water starts by scooping water into his/her container and pouts it into the next student’s container.
  3. Have students continue to pass water along the line. The last student pours water into the empty bucket.
  4. The winning team is that which can fill the empty bucket the fullest. A second round can be done trying to fill the bucket the fastest.

Teacher Tip: Test out the containers before the challenge. The leaky containers should not be able to fill the bucket as full as the good/non-leaky containers.


  • Discuss the impact of the leaks. What does this represent?
  • Start a campaign at your school on simple ways for everyone to reduce the amount of wasted water.
  • As a class or school Green team/club, share what your class/school is doing to reduce the amount of water you all waste. Submit your plan and follow-up actions as a BC Green Games project.

Other Resources

World Health Organization| Sanitation and Health

World Health Organization | Drinking Water

MetroVancouver | Watersheds & Reservoirs

Science World | BC Green Games