Project SWELL

Project SWELL


Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership) is a completely free, standard-aligned K-6 science curriculum about the importance of San Diego County’s water. San Diego Coastkeeper, City of San Diego’s Think Blue and San Diego Unified School District partnered to develop this teacher curriculum complete with models, hands-on projects and field experiences to spark students’ inner scientist, environmentalist or future responsible decision maker, all while reinforcing state standards.

We provide teachers with training and in-class support including free classroom presentations, experiment kits and lesson plans. Project SWELL gives your students the ability to understand real, local environmental problems while helping you keep them on track with Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math as well as Next Generation Science Standards. Learn more information about Project SWELL’s correlation to CCSS and NGSS.

get access now button

If you’re a part of San Diego Unified School District, you can access the following for free

Classroom Presentations

boys science san diego

 Every year, we visit schools across San Diego Unified School District impacting thousands of K-6th-grade students and hundreds of teachers. After each presentation, we distributed a Project SWELL science kit with materials for teachers to continue to build on the water lessons after we leave.
If you’re a K-6 San Diego Unified School District teacher, you can sign up for a free classroom water science presentation. The following is a brief description of what your students will learn. Fill out the classroom request form here or Email today to schedule your presentation. Questions? Call us at (619)758-7743 #125.

Kindergarten & 1st: Water Environments in Trouble and Clean Water Field Trip: Schoolyards and Storm Drains

  • Kindergarten and 1st grade students explore their schoolyard to find pollution sources and learn how trash can travel from the schoolyard to the storm drains and finally the ocean. One 1st grade student said, “I learned about how trash and dog poop can get in the storm drain and then make the fish sick.”

1st Grade: Tap Water, Where it Comes From and How We Use it (Water Conservation)

  • 1st grade students explore San Diego’s water supply and learn about our sources of drinking water. They model how much water is wasted by different families doing the same activities (e.g. washing dishes, shower, brush teeth, and others). They shared their water conservation ideas with the class.

2nd Grade: What’s in Water Moving Through San Diego

  • Students model how the soil and pollutants move throughout our watersheds with the rain. The hands-on experiments simulate the connection between storm drains and pollution sources to help students find out what happens to the water that goes down the storm drains in San Diego and name things that cause water pollution.

3rd & 4th Grade: Pollution You Can See, “Marine Debris.”

  • Why is the ocean in San Diego unsafe for swimming after it rains? The marine debris lesson includes a hands-on activity to model entanglement in plastic, leading to powerful students discussions about how we can prevent this problem from happening.

5th Grade: Where Does San Diego Water Come From and Storm Drain Pollution.

  • What happens to water when it goes down the storm drain? Students find out the answer by modeling runoff pollution. Students also explore San Diego’s water supply and learn that most of our water use comes from imported sources (e.g. Colorado River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta).

6th Grade: Modeling Pollution in Watersheds

  • What is a watershed? Using recyclable materials students develop a watershed model complete with pollution. They learn that watershed boundaries are determined by nature, not humans (e.g. mountains and hills not city limits) and how our activities affect our environment and our neighbors.

Access and Download the Complete Curriculum

Teachers can download the curriculum and support materials for free. Just email for your username, password and login instructions.

Receive a Project SWELL Science Kit

swell class experiment
We distribute Project SWELL science kits and curricula alongside the Full Option Science System (FOSS) science kits used by San Diego Unified School District. Project SWELL science kits include everything you need for hands-on water lessons.

Since 2003, teachers in 130 elementary schools in San Diego Unified and 17 schools in Oceanside Unified school districts have had access to Project SWELL kits.

To receive your own free kit, just email

Train the Trainer Program

We offer two types of professional development.

  1. Scheduled Professional Development Twice Per Year:coastkeeper teacher trainings
    Project SWELL provides free professional development training for teachers at San Diego Unified School District. The training empowers teachers with tools to provide real-life investigation lessons to their students. We partner with Pure Water San Diego and other local museums to provide a hands-on experience and real-life application to our curriculum. The teachers learn how to teach each lesson and how to use Project SWELL science kits to help students build a foundation for taking care of their environment by providing real solutions to real pollution problems. Get updates about Project SWELL professional development workshops.
  2. School Site Training: If you can’t make it to our scheduled professional development, no problem, we can go to your school. To sign up for a training at your school site just email

To learn more visit

get access now button