Back at home, it’s easy to think that when you turn on a tap, water will come out. Here at The Island School, however, we have learned that water is not an unlimited resource. In fact, our water supply is contained within five underground cisterns on our campus. The water that fills our cisterns comes from the sky, and roofs across campus collect this water, which then flows directly into the cisterns. We draw water from one cistern at a time for drinking, cooking, showering, and various other purposes. Each morning during chores, the Cistern Crew is responsible for measuring the level of water in each of the five cisterns, and entering the data into an Excel spreadsheet. This data is then examined to determine how much water we have used up and how much is left. The problem is that, currently, there is no real system behind deciding which cistern we draw water from. Over the past few weeks in math class, we have been figuring out a solution to this problem.

The initial question our math teachers posed was, “how can we use our cisterns most efficiently?” We spent the past two weeks working in small groups, answering this question by measuring buildings, calculating surface areas and volumes, and using records of past water collected in our cisterns to find a better way to maximize the amount of water we collect in the future. All the groups agreed that we should draw from the cisterns strategically, not allowing any one cistern to get too low or overflow. We are now working on putting this plan into action, and it will hopefully benefit not only our own semester, but future semesters as well by more efficiently collecting water. So next time you turn on your tap, be mindful of where your water comes from!