655 teachers


> 13,700 students

About Project SWELL

Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership) is an innovative education program that provides students with locally-oriented water science, and empowers them to take an active role in protecting their environment. The interactive lessons and hands-on activities included in Project SWELL are designed to put students at the center of inquiry and exploration.

Born out of a partnership between San Diego Coastkeeper, the City of San Diego, and San Diego Unified School District, Project SWELL has brought hands-on environmental science to thousands of K-6 grade students in San Diego since its inception in 2003. The curriculum is available at no cost to all K-6 teachers within San Diego Unified School District. Our education team supports teachers interested in using Project SWELL by providing them with professional development training and in-class support, including classroom guided lessons, hands-on science kits, and comprehensive lesson plans. The curriculum is aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Project SWELL works in tandem with our other educational programs, Water Education for All and Water and Climate Stewards, to reach more students across San Diego.

Ready to bring Project SWELL to your classroom? Schedule a guided lesson using the calendar at the bottom of this page under the Guided Lessons section. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to!



The Curriculum

The Project SWELL curriculum is aligned with state standards, empowering educators to use relevant, memorable examples of phenomena to explore multiple NGSS disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and science and engineering practices. For more information on how our curriculum connects to NGSS and CCSS, check out the Project SWELL website.

Each grade level curriculum includes six to seven lessons and all the necessary science supplies to conduct the experiments, models, and other hands-on activities.

K: Water Environments in Trouble: Explore your school and storm drains to discover pollution sources.

1st: What’s in our Water?: Students explore a watershed model to learn about how pollution travels.

2nd: What’s a Watershed?: Students make watershed models to learn about soil and water interactions and how to prevent pollution.

3rd: Water we going to do about the climate?: Students learn about the differences between weather and climate and simulate climate change.

4th: Pollution goes where?: Students become dolphins and discover what happens to our trash when it reaches the ocean.

5th: Water Supplies in Trouble!: Students discover the amount of water on our planet and identify sources of San Diego water.

6th: Watersheds in San Diego and Modeling Pollution. Using recyclable materials students make watershed models and learn how human activities impact our water.

Guided lessons

Throughout the school year, our education team visits classrooms across San Diego to work with teachers to use Project SWELL lessons to engage students in local water quality issues. Interactive lessons and hands-on activities are designed to put students at the center of inquiry and exploration.

Examples of classroom activities we lead include building watershed models, identifying possible sources of pollution in the schoolyard, and modeling how marine debris affects our wildlife. Each classroom we visit receives a science kit that contains all the materials needed to continue teaching Project SWELL curriculum after we leave. Our hands-on guided lessons promote cross-disciplinary connections, training students to be the next generation of water stewards.

Ready to schedule a free guided lesson for your classroom? Schedule a visit using the calendar below. Feel free to reach out to if you have any questions.

Students, this scheduling calendar can also be used to request a conversation with a member of our education team as part of our Ask an Expert program! Students may schedule time to call, interview, or video chat with our staff, to ask questions about water, climate, stormwater, pollution, and solutions to lessen their impacts on the environment.

Appointments can be made in 15 minute increments. Please see the calendar below to schedule your time.


Teacher Trainings and Professional Development

Throughout the year, our education team hosts workshops where educators in San Diego Unified School District can get hand-on experience using the Project SWELL curriculum. Professional development training explores how our water science curriculum supports NGSS and CCSS, and provides the opportunity for teachers to get direct experience with the activities, allowing them to become more comfortable teaching Project SWELL curriculum to their classes.

During the training, teachers will gain understanding of the connections between different science concepts and practice science inquiry using real-life problems such as runoff pollution, water scarcity, and environmental degradation. Teachers can also begin to plan their curriculum using lessons that give students opportunities to develop models, construct explanations, design solutions, and much more.

Not able to make it to an upcoming teacher training? We can bring the training to your school! Contact for more details.

To learn more, visit the professional development page of the Project SWELL website.

One Kindergarten teacher said:

“[The students] really understood our local habitats and why animals would live in this environment.”

One second grade teacher said:

I love how well [Project SWELL] ties in and supports the district’s science unit. I also like how it connects the children with their environment and actions, that regardless of age you can make a difference.

One fifth grade teacher said:

I think [my students] were most impressed with the watershed activity because it was hands on. They learned all of the different types of waste that can be shed off the land into the groundwater, surface water, and end up in our drinking water and oceans.