Harvesting Water from Fog
- Africa, Cape Verde
- Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
- Science, Social Studies & Geography
- 60-120 minutes
In this lesson, students travel to the island nation of Cape Verde where they are introduced to Peace Corps Volunteer Nathan Lee and his work of harvesting water from fog. Students will learn how fog is produced, why it is a viable source of fresh water, and how it is harvested.
Cape Verde as a whole is surrounded by water; however, finding enough water to drink and use within their homes continues to be a challenge for many people. There is very limited fresh water on the islands. The idea of collecting water from the rolling fog that sweeps over the islands has proven to be not only innovative, but also very successful. The site of Monte Gordo Natural Park is located in the western mountains of Sao Nicolau. The high elevation, exposure to prevailing winds, proximity to the ocean, and abundance of fog at Monte Gordo Natural Park make it an ideal location for harvesting water from fog. Nathan Lee and his team will introduce students to their project through videos and photos.
- Investigate, define and become familiar with the properties of fog
- Locate the country of Cape Verde on a map or globe
- Describe how water can be collected from fog
- List possible solutions to the lack of fresh water on Cape Verde and other locations
- Cape Verde: The Republic of Cape Verde is an island nation located about 300 miles off the western coast of Africa.
- Fog: Clouds consisting of water droplets suspended in air at or near the Earth's surface.
- Fog nets: An apparatus made up of fine mesh for collecting liquid water from fog.
- Rainy Season: The time of year in a tropical climate when most of the average rainfall in a region falls.
- Filter: A device used to collect debris from water as it passes through it.
1. Have students locate the country of Cape Verde on a map or globe. Discuss with students the fact that Cape Verde is a separate island country located off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean.
2. Create a brief discussion with your students about fog. What do they already know about it? How would they define it?
3. Introduce the topic of fog by discussing the physical characteristics of fog and low cloud cover. Some key ideas to include are:
- Fog is made up of tiny droplets of fresh water or ice
- Water droplets from fog can collect on physical items, much like dew
- What weather conditions are needed for fog to form?
- Why does fog often form at a certain location? What role does the ocean play?
4. Discuss with your class how the water droplets within fog can sometimes be harvested or gathered. Brainstorm some ideas on how these water droplets can be harvested. Encourage students to really put some thought into this. How would you build a fog harvester? What would it look like?
5. Review some of the students' ideas
6. Have students view the multimedia slideshow: The Inside Scoop on the Fog Collection System: From Plans to Reality (See link above). Explain that this was an actual project that was carried out with the help of Peace Corps Volunteer Nathan Lee. Have students notice that it took much planning, and many people working together to build the fog nets.
7. Explain to students that they will be taking a virtual trip to Cape Verde to meet Nathan Lee and one of his co-workers to learn more about the project and why it was so needed. Watch the video Fog's Bounty: Harvesting Water from Fog (see link above) of Nathan Lee introducing his project and explaining how it works.
8. After viewing the video create a discussion around the benefits of collecting water from fog – including:
- System requires no energy input to operate
- Multiple uses of water including drinking, household use, irrigation, and reforestation
- Reduces the burden of carrying water from distant places
- Ideal for many locations where fog is abundant, while rain is not
- System is easy to construct, and expandable as needed
- Fog water is clean and abundant
9. Lastly, watch with your class the video In My Own Words (see link above) which will introduce your students to Florian de Cruz Duarte, an ecotourism guide at Monte Gordo Natural Park who explains the importance of this project to his community. Discuss with your students how they think having more water will change the life of those in Cape Verde.
10. Research with your class the weather systems of your area. Is fog prevalent? What locations within the United States could possibly benefit from fog collection? Some examples are: San Francisco, California; Cape Disappointment, Washington; Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Frameworks & Standards
- Sustainable water sources differ for communities depending on variables such as geography, weather conditions, location, access, and technology.
- What weather conditions are needed to produce fog?
- Why is fog a good source for fresh water?
- Why was this fog harvesting project successful?
- How has the presence of fog benefited those living in Cape Verde?
National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Thematic Strand 1–Culture
- The way of life of a group of people
Thematic Strand 3–People, Places, and Environments
- The influence of physical systems, such as climate and weather
- How people interact with the environment
- Peoples and places distant and unfamiliar
National Science Education Standards
Content Standard C: Life Science
- Populations and ecosystems
Content Standard F: Science in personal and social perspectives
- Science and technology in society
- Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges
- Natural resources
U.S. National Geography Standards
Essential Element I: The world in spatial terms
- Use maps and other geographic representations to acquire, process, and report information
Essential Element II: Places and regions
- Physical and human characteristics of places
Essential Element V: Environment and Society
- How human actions modify the physical environment
- Changes in meanings, use, distribution, and importance of resources
Essential Element VI: The uses of geography
- Apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future
- Create one of the simple fog or dew collectors with your class. This exercise will allow you and your class to see firsthand how water droplets gather and can be harvested. See instructions linked to above.
- Learn more about fog harvesting projects by viewing the videos at www.fogquest.org
- Explore other methods Peace Corps Volunteers have used to get fresh water at Cape Verde by viewing the video Bringing Water from Sol to Soul (linked to above), which introduces solar stills as a solution to the problem of Cape Verde's water shortage.
- Have the students in your class start a correspondence with a Peace Corps volunteer in Cape Verde or Africa through the Coverdell World Wise Schools Correspondence Match Program.