The Water Fountain Problem – Real World Math

Using Linear Relations and Proportional Reasoning to Model Water Flow

The Water Fountain Problem - Real World MathematicsHerman Secondary School Teachers Recording Video With iPadThe following lesson resource material provides Real World Math Problems that were created by the mathematics department at Herman Secondary School from the Greater Essex County District School Board. I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Fabris, Mrs. Austen, Mr. Loebach, and Mr. Marusic to create their first Real World Problem or 3 Act Math Task as Dan Meyer would call it. What a success! We will be getting together in a couple of weeks to decide on some learning goals, suggested prompts, and other useful information to go along with these videos and photos. The goal here is to allow their classes to begin thinking about how long it would take to get their Recommended 8 Cups of Water Each Day from the Herman Secondary School Water Fountain. Use as you see fit in your classroom! It is an important life lesson anyway! Water coolers, from companies like, are actually required in schools so that students can get the hydration that they need, it will teach them something.

Math Topics Related To This Activity:

  • Proportional reasoning,
  • Linear Relations and Rate of Change, and
  • measurement and volume.


Minds On:

Watch the Video Below:

Question that will likely come up through class discussion:

How fast is the water flowing from the fountain?

Some prompts for students:

  • Make a guess as to how long it would take to fill up a typical water bottle. Give a number too low, too high and finally make your best guess.
  • What information will be necessary to help us decide?

Have students talk in their table groups to try and make some realistic predictions relative to this particular scenario.


Give the students some additional information by showing this video that times how long it takes for the water bottle to fill up. What are some questions or issues that may arise by this method of determining the solution?


The Water Fountain Problem | Real World Mathematics

Another question to explore:

How many Herman Griffins Water Bottles will it take to fill a 2L Bottle of Coca-Cola?

Have your students make predictions about how many Herman Griffins water bottles it would take to fill up a 2L bottle of Coca-Cola. Pick a number too low and too high, then have them make their best guess.



Watch the video below to see how much each Herman Griffin Water Bottle can hold in order to help determine how many of these bottles it would take to fill a 2L Coca-Cola Bottle.

The Water Fountain Problem | Real World Mathematics

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