As part of our mission, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission works with community and education organizations to create engaging programs that teach children to make sustainable choices in everyday life. We worked with the California Academy of Sciences on The Story of Poo, an animated video following a six-year old girl from San Francisco who learns about what takes place after she flushes the toilet.
The story is designed to teach elementary school students about how San Francisco’s sewer system works. It is told through the girl’s perspective and explores her curiosity and excitement in learning how wastewater is treated in San Francisco.
Story of Poo: Discussion Questions
After watching The Story of Poo with their students, we encourage teachers and parents to walk kids through the following discussion questions. These questions and their answers will help our youth better understand San Francisco's sewer system, our environment and the role they can play to be better environmental stewards.
- In what ways did the people in the video use water? What are some other ways you and your family use water in your daily lives?
- How does water end up in the sewer system? Hint: the video showed a few different ways this happens. Try to think of two of them!
- Turn to a partner and discuss: What types of things should we put in the toilet? What types of things should we make sure to keep out of the toilet? Why?
- Turn to a partner and discuss: What role(s) did bacteria play at the Treatment Plant? What did you see or hear from the video that makes you think this?
- What is one action you can take to... a) help the Treatment Plant do its job well? b) help keep the plants and animals that live in San Francisco Bay healthy?
The poo in the video was transformed into a clean, nutritious material called biosolids. How do biosolids help improve the environment?
Vocabulary & Key Concepts
One way to help kids learn and grow into environmental stewards is to help them build their vocabulary. Throughout the course of "The Story of Poo" we reference several key vocabulary terms through animation and narration. Depending on the age and aptitude of your students, you can select one or more new words to introduce to them.
- The water we use, as well as the water than runs off of streets, becomes wastewater. Most wastewater must be cleaned before it is safe to release into the environment.
- San Francisco has a unique combined sewer system because it collects and treats both rainwater and the wastewater that comes from homes and businesses.
- Sewer systems must clean dirty water from building as well as streets, so it is important to be careful about what we put down toilets and drains, and keep trash off our streets. Only 3 P's belong in the toilet: pee, poop, and paper!
- Keeping the water we use as clean as possible helps people and other living beings to be safe and healthy. By being careful about what we put into our wastewater system, we can help to protect the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, as well as the organisms living in them.
Visit our Sewer System page to learn more about our sewer infrastructure systems and our plans to upgrade it.