School Programs

Since the opening of Fairmount Water Works, tens of thousands of teachers and students have visited and participated in our unique programs created to meld the science, technology, engineering, art & architecture and math (STEAM) behind providing drinking water, protecting our source water and within a regional urban watershed.

Three girls set up a science experiment at a lab table, using a dropper to move liquid from a beaker to petri dishes.

We have designed programs that are suitable for all grades and that meet both Pennsylvania and New Jersey Educational Standards. All programs are free to students in the City of Philadelphia. Suggested donation between $5 and $10 per student outside the city limits. Bus transportation may be available upon request to schools with a demonstrated need (use online form).

We offer a number of themed lessons. Each lesson runs about two hours in length, including a hands-on component, and most can be adapted to any age.

Wondrous World of Water

Wondrous World of Water is an introductory lesson about the importance of waterways to our city. This program looks at the connection between healthy water, a healthy river ecosystem, and our city’s drinking water. Program includes an outdoor exploration of the plant and animal life in and around the Schuylkill River and students will create a river mural for the class to take home. Program takes place outdoors and inside our building.

  • Recommended Grades: K-3

Taking Nature’s Lead

Students investigate how pervious surfaces and the shape of the land relate to stormwater runoff and water quality in the Schuylkill River. Students will evaluate different surfaces on Fairmount Water Works grounds to increase their awareness of how water moves. Students will explore an example of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), and learn how GSI can capture, store and clean some of the runoff before it reaches the river. Takes place outdoors on Fairmount Water Works grounds and inside our building.

  • Recommended Grades: 3-6

We Drink the River

Students will discover the history of our city’s water supply system and make connections between the natural and urban water cycles. Students will conduct chemical testing on a real-time sample of river water and view microscopic life from the river under microscopes. Takes place outdoors and inside our building.

  • Recommended Grades: 5-12

Mussels in the Field

Assist PWD scientists in their research on freshwater mussels. Mussels propagated at the FWW Mussel Hatchery are put in grow-out ponds when they are a couple of months old and about 5 mm. Students will measure and weigh mussels in grow-out baskets at the Discovery Center and assess growth and survivorship rates.

Recommended Grades: 6-12


We are currently unable to offer tours of our treatment plants, but we can provide in-classroom or remote presentations on treatment plants as described below:

  • Drinking Water Treatment – Explore Philadelphia’s water supply system and learn how our drinking water is cleaned today.
  • Wastewater Treatment – Learn how our water system developed, and how the Philadelphia Water Department treats wastewater and storm water runoff today. Combined sewer systems and green storm water infrastructure will be discussed.
  • One Water – Explore the urban water cycle, including history of Philadelphia’s water treatment, current day water and sewage treatment, and other urban watershed issues.

Additional In-Person or Remote Programs Available Here!