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Image from the story Develop Innovative Solutions to Local Problems

Target Grade Levels:
Grades 7-12

• The Activity
• Video Discussion Questions
• Taking It Further
• Connections to Curriculum Standards

The Activity

Show students where South Africa is on a map.

Ask students to read FRONTLINE/World's Background Facts on South Africa and identify what they think are the top three problems facing residents of that country.

Tell students that you are going to show them a brief video clip that shows how one man has worked to address a major problem in South Africa. Then show them Play Pump (length: 6:48), using the Video Discussion Questions below to focus student viewing.

Discuss the video and then break students into teams of 2-3. Challenge each team to identify and research a problem facing members of your local community. Teams should then brainstorm innovative approaches to solving that problem, decide on the most viable solution, and then present their problem and solution to the other students. If class time allows, have students vote on their favorite solution and work to implement it as a class.

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Video Discussion Questions

Focus student viewing of Play Pump (length: 6:48) with the following questions:

  • At the beginning of the story, how do the residents of Stinkwater get their water?
  • Describe the solution that Trevor Field has introduced to many communities to give residents access to clean water.
  • What other social problems in South Africa has Trevor Field addressed through his play pump initiative?
  • How did Trevor Field get started? How did his initiative grow over time?
  • Why do you think the play pump concept has been so successful?


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Taking it Further

Work with students to raise funds to sponsor the installation of a play pump in Africa. FRONTLINE/World viewer Kate Grabowski-Clark, who teaches in the Glastonbury Public Schools in Connecticut, worked with a group of fifth graders to sell bottles of cold water each morning in the school’s lobby. They called their fundraiser, "Water 4 Water."

In a few short weeks, they raised more than $400 in one school. By expanding their effort to all elementary schools in the district, they plan to raise enough money by the end of the school year to pay for a play pump. While a complete play pump costs around $7,000, donations of any size are welcome at PlayPumps International .

Connections to Curriculum Standards

These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge, a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning).

Behavioral Studies, Standard 4:
Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions.

Business Education, Standard 15:
Knows unique characteristics of an entrepreneur.

Level IV, Benchmark 2:
Knows that entrepreneurship relates to the capacity to take responsibility for one’s own future, to initiate creative ideas, develop them, and to carry them through into action in a determined manner.
Language Arts, Standard 9:
Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Technology, Standard 6:
Understands the nature and uses of different forms of technology.

World History, Standard 44:
Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world.

Level III, Benchmark 2:
Understands influences on economic development around the world.
World History, Standard 45:
Understands major global trends since World War II.
Level IV, Benchmark 2:
Understands causes of economic imbalances and social inequalities among the world's peoples and efforts made to close these gaps.

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