Swedish science centre raising awareness about the value of water

2022-07-20 14:00:48

Universeum deploys several activities and tools that engage the public in water and sustainability, of which some are created with the input from the SCOREwater team. Below we will focus on these tools and activities. But before we dive into this, a little more on Universeum itself.

Universeum is the national science centre of Sweden and a powerful arena for education and popular education in science, technology and sustainable development. Universeum gives children and adults the knowledge and power to make the earth a better and more sustainable place to live. Website: https://www.universeum.se/en/

Developed activities

Universeum recently developed three activities relating to water: the digital exhibition Water world, a water purification lab for schools and an activity called Visualised water.

Water world

The aim is to increase the public’s engagement with and basic knowledge of the city’s water resources by means of digital tools. Water world is a digital exhibition released on 21 June 2021 and available to everyone via Universeum’s digital platform. The overall aim is to encourage visitors to be more mindful in their use of water as per SCOREwater’s overall purpose. The city’s water is most affected by its residents and their homes, so the choice of target group is simple: families with children aged 7-10. Children with insights often have a positive influence on their parents, and at the same time parents want their children's digital activity to be useful. The digital experience will take place in the home environment and can last as long as families need and want.

The Water world is a playful world with 8 different challenges, all targeting different areas of water use by families. For instance:

  • “Clean water” is a mission where the player can use five different substances and tools to purify various types of dirty water.
  • In the toilet game the player must ensure that the right types of waste go in the right container: should it be flushed down the toilet or go in the trash can?
  • Pipes! is a classic puzzle game where the player must turn the pipes so water can flow between the different points on its way to our taps.
  • The invisible water and How much water? are two missions that allow players to discover how much water we use in our everyday activities and our food consumption.

Visit the digital the Water World https://digitala.universeum.se/waterworld (on the top right you can choose between Swedish and English)

Water purification lab

The Water purification lab forms part one of Universeum’s development programs for schools: Global goals/Sustainable oceans. Sustainable oceans is a combination program offered to intermediate-level teachers with a focus on strengthening their work methods and approach relating to the global goals in schools. The student program takes place in Universeum’s Chemistry Lab and has been developed for students in years 4, 5 or 6. The purpose of the lab is to create understanding of different ways to help animals, humans and plants stay healthy and ensure that we have sustainable oceans by both purifying water in a variety of ways and also minimising emissions. It also aims to increase knowledge about the fact that many different purification methods are required to deal with water from differing processes.

Children working in the water purification lab  | Image provided by Universeum

Visualised water

On site at Universeum’s public visualisation lab, VISLAB, the students can experiment with data at the stations linked to oceans and water, and collectively discuss a number of issues that highlight water at various levels. The aim is to link together technology and issues relating to water. The program has been developed for students in year 7, 8 and 9.

The main installations used are Virtual Göteborg, Climate Food and Our world.

  1. ‘Virtual Göteborg’ is a 3D-printed model of Göteborg with projected data provided courtesy of the City of Göteborg and its work to develop a digital representation of the city. The program allows students to explore what happens in the event of cloudbursts and flooding, and subsequently tie this to surface water and various challenges presented by this scenario. They can reflect on how a city is affected and how urban planning can be implemented.
  2. Another data set that is used is ‘Climate food’. Here the students can consider how our consumption and our eating habits affect global water usage. By both looking at the food consumption of various families and creating their own meals they can reflect on water usage around the world.
  3. The ‘Our world’ installation, that is the large globe projection at the center of the exhibition, is used to give the water issues a more global perspective. What are the implications of rises in sea level, for example, around the world? What happens if the world’s reserves of fresh water begin to melt away as the glaciers melt?


The conclusion from both school activities (the ‘water purification lab’ and ‘visualised water’) is that:

  1. the water issue is important to highlight from a sustainability perspective and from several different angles. The most engaging factors are those closest to the target group’s own perspective.
  2. Tools that they do not have access to in the classroom are important and appealing to use, e.g. actual data visualisations of the latest research, along with a proper chemistry lab with new purification methods and innovations.