Case Study

Rainwater Harvesting

Planning a garden with a water budget

Amy Flores, Tucson Unified School District

Mark Reynolds, Tucson Unified School District


We only receive 11-13 inches of rain annually in Tucson, AZ. With that in mind, we can calculate exactly how much water a specific area will get. Then we can decide what plants we want, calculate their annual demand and plan a rain garden that does not exceed it’s annual water budget.

This lesson applies to any arid region and can be modified by finding your area’s average rainfall.

Rainwater Garden Lesson

Within each grade level, K-5, students will engage in multiple science and engineering practices as they gather information to answer their questions, use mathematics and computational thinking, solve design problems and reason with data and evidence to support their understanding. Individual lessons surrounding the planning and implementation of a rain garden will include connections to the crosscutting concepts of structure and function, cause and effect and stability and change. The core ideas for knowing and using Science can be targeted as students observe living organisms within the installed rain garden and/or any outdoor space with plants.
Case Study - Rainwater Harvesting.docx

VIDEOS: Stormwater Currency - Tucson featuring WMC

NOAA site visit – Recharge the Rain schools

5th grade students from Drachman touring the rain garden. They were monitoring it with IR guns to record surface temperatures to report to and participating in data collection for Phenology studies through Nature’s Notebook

Joaquin Murrieta describes the Drachman Rain Garden project

Ecoregion School Garden Site

Who are the students?
GATE (Gifted and Talented) K-5 students (about 40)ACT TUSD Students with intellectual disabilities ages 18-228th grade students and 6-8th grade “Build and Grow” elective students
Who are the garden leaders?

Amy Flores

Mark Reynolds

Eric Flewelling

Anita Cole
Describe the community the school serves and its history.
Drachman Montessori Magnet School is located in central Tucson in Barrio Viejo, which in Spanish means "old neighborhood." We are the only public Montessori school in tucson and 1 of only 2 in the state. Most of our students live in the neighborhood although some travel up to an hour to get to school. Drachman Montessori K-8 is a title 1 school serving students from nine different language backgrounds that include over 70% on free or reduced price lunch. We have many gardens all over campus that our garden team, Mark Reynolds, Amy Flores, Eric Floewelling and Anita Cole build and maintain with our students.
What other kinds of schools have you used this in?
We are working on teaching this curriculum and installing rain gardens at Cavet K-5, Safford K-8 and at least 5 more schools next year through our University of Arizona and Watershed Management sponsored Recharge the Rain teacher program. In the last 3 years, 12 school systems were installed through our program.

Connections to Ecoregion Topics

Discuss how the lesson relates to one (or more) of the four ecoregion topics.
Demo 2A: Rain Garden

Conference Notes