Apps and websites for exploring fresh water

Earlier this week I was browsing through a list of augmented reality apps I’ve tried over the years when the WWF’s Free Rivers app came to mind. Repeated play with this app prompted me to look for similar resources. Here are some fun apps and websites that students can use to learn about the importance of fresh water in an ecosystem.

Free Rivers WWF

Free Rivers WWF is a free augmented reality iPad app developed by the World Wildlife Fund. The app uses augmented reality to present a story about the rivers. In the app, students will learn about the importance of free-flowing rivers in the world. The app offers a series of sections or experiences through which students can learn about how free-flowing rivers support wildlife, agriculture, and people.

Free Rivers WWF tells students stories about the effects of changes in weather patterns, river closures, and pollution of river ecosystems. Students interact with these stories by moving their iPads or pinching and scaling the items in the stories. Unlike some other augmented reality apps, animations in WWF Free Rivers can be viewed from different angles by students. A great example of this can be found at the beginning of the app, when students can see what the dam does to the river. During this experience, students can see the dam from above, below, and from the side.


Aquation is a free game for iOS, Android and website offered by Smithsonian Science and Education Center. Designed for high school or high school students, the game teaches students about clean water distribution and what can be done to balance global water resources. In the game, students choose a region to explore its current water supply. Based on the information provided, students take action in the form of building desalination plants, conducting further research, responding to natural events, and attempting to move water between regions.

river runner

river runner is a handy website that shows how a drop of water travels from anywhere in the United States to the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico. To use River Runner, simply go to the site and click on any location in the United States. As soon as you click on the map, River Runner will generate and play an animation of the path that the water drop will take from that location to reach the ocean. You can stop the animation, rewind it and rewind it if you want. The animation is based on data collected by the USGS. The site code can be found here on github.

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