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Joris Debeij


4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Geography, Social-Emotional Learning

Resource Types

  • Video, 8 minutes, 15 seconds, CC
  • Lesson Plan

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West

When a Town Runs Dry

Ask a Question

  • This short film shows how a fifteen-year drought has changed Stratford, a farming town in California.
  • The resource also includes a lesson plan that offers a variety of thought-provoking discussion questions and writing prompts that would be appropriate to use in science, English, and geography courses.
Teaching Tips


  • The video shows how the drought has effected three Stratford residents: a white farmer, a Latino high school football coach, and an immigrant from Yemen who owns a grocery store.
  • Many elements of the lesson plan, though designed for high school students, are suitable for younger students as well.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The lesson plan offers some background information on the California drought that should be shared with students prior to viewing the video. 
  • The film was produced in 2016, but the drought has persisted in California.


  • History and science classes could compare and contrast the Dust Bowl of the 1930s with the current drought in California. Students could research what caused the Dust Bowl and what measures were taken to restore the land.
  • Science classes could learn more about the important role of groundwater by reading this article from The National Environmental Education Foundation.
  • English and journalism classes could conduct interviews with people who grew up in the local community to find out how local climate and societal conditions have changed since they were children. Students could then bolster the information collected during the interviews with data about local climate change.
  • Other resources on this topic include this interactive unit on drought, this firsthand account of living through a drought in California, and this resource on how drought is connected to climate change.
Scientist Notes
This resource explores strategies to strengthen climate response on people's livelihoods in Stratford. There is no contradiction in the reports provided. Thus, this is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-1 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth's mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.
      • 4-ESS3-2 Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.
      • HS-ESS3-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.9.9-12 Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
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