Program Resources


Guiding Principles

Central San designs all of our classroom education and outreach programs using our core Guiding Principles as the foundation. This ensures that the materials we create and the resources we provide, help to make the complex work of wastewater collection and treatment fully accessible to each and every learner we meet, regardless of age. You can read more by visiting our Guiding Principles page.

The Poop Principle – Our Pedagogy

All the educational resources we create use our Poop Principle as a guide. The Poop Principle implores us to consider the kinds of learning activities to put in front of a group. We should always be asking ourselves, “Is this something they could do independently, whilst sitting on the toilet?” If the answer is yes, then we are not yet taking full advantage of the collective learning opportunity in front of us. Our programs are designed to maximize time spent learning as a group and to take full advantage of all the people in the room. Our resources use our contributions to our local wastewater system as powerful tools for learning. We all contribute to this system; we should all learn about this system, together. The hope is that by doing that, we can all appreciate the fundamental role our wastewater system plays in our daily lives and how we can all work to protect it. To learn more about our pedagogy, please read our full Poop Principle.


Resource Recovery – Our Materials

To source materials for our programs, we rely on solid wastes diverted from landfill, including donated biotech supplies and repurposed household materials. This design is on purpose. As an agency that sits on the receiving end of one kind of waste stream, we are sensitive to the realities that affect all waste streams. This design helps us set an example that rich, hands-on learning can be done with everyday, discarded items. You can read more about the design of our program materials on our Resource Recovery page.


Phenomenon, Question, and Enduring Understanding – Our Content

In every setting, regardless of age, we have one singular enduring understanding we want each and every participant to walk away with: The stuff we put in our water (and down our drains) DOES NOT disappear. Everything—from how the wastewater system in our homes work, to how Central San maintains our complex system of pipes underground, to how we treat the volumes of wastewater we receive each day, to the steps we take to ensure that our water is clean and safe to return to the environment—all have this central understanding at their core. We want people of all ages to consider this fundamental truth when taking action to flush (or not flush) something down the drain. To learn more about our content, please read our full Phenomenon, Question, and Enduring Understanding page.

Classroom Programs

Pipe Protectors

Pipe Protectors is Central San’s suite of award winning elementary classroom (or outdoor!) lessons. All aspects of our program have been developed to support hands-on wastewater science and engineering for students in TK through 5th grade. The goal of every Central San lesson is to help students think more critically about “what happens to our dirty water after it goes down the drain?” To view all of our Pipe Protectors curriculum, please visit our Pipe Protectors page.


Next Gen Sewer Science

Next Gen Sewer Science is a multi-day wastewater treatment lab based on the science and engineering involved in collecting, treating, and analyzing our wastewater. There are three different lesson series to choose from – each is built upon relevant NGSS earth science, biological science, and physical science curriculum. To view all of our Next Gen Sewer Science curriculum, please visit our Next Gen Sewer Science page.


Rock Steady Schools Program

Rock Steady Schools Program is an interactive and entertaining multi-media assembly that uses juggling, comedy, and magic to teach students about sewer science and environmental stewardship. This program is available thanks to the partnership between Central San and the Contra Costa Water District. The program features our newest education video: Disappearing Act! It tells the story of Mateo, a young magician who becomes increasingly consumed with his perceived power to make anything disappear down the drain.


Outdoor Education

Delta Discovery Voyage

The Robert G. Brownlee, a 90-foot-long research vessel, provides a safe and stable floating laboratory for students out on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The three-and-a-half hour boat excursion helps students learn about the source of their drinking water and the importance of wastewater treatment to keep the Delta ecosystem alive and healthy. This program is a partnership between the Marine Science Institute of Redwood City and the water and wastewater agencies of Contra Costa County.


Walking Treatment Plant Tours

Our treatment plant tours help people of all ages understand what happens to our dirty water after it goes down the drain. Participants receive a guided exploration of our facilities in order to learn how we collect and clean more than 13 billion gallons of wastewater every year. We regularly offer tours to the public, K-12 school groups, local community organizations, and community college students.


Bicycle Tours

In partnership with local organizations like Bike East Bay, Central San guides participants along portions of our wastewater infrastructure following the Iron Horse and other regional trails. These all ages tours are a great way to engage people in our work out in the community and to help them discover what’s happening beneath our wheels.

Community Engagement

Speaking Engagements/Resource Fairs/Community Events

Central San works diligently to ensure our programs and outreach materials are accessible to everyone. It is our job to ensure that we empower people of all ages to help us in our role of protecting public health and the environment. Our staff travel to sites throughout Contra Costa County for speaking engagements with local groups, participation in school career and resource fairs, and participation in community-wide events. 


Professional Development

Central San directly supports educators across Contra Costa county and beyond. We host an annual professional development series – the Summer Teacher Academy – for K-12 teachers from across our service area. We also work collaboratively with several local school districts for teacher support and training during the school year, including the Lafayette School District and the Mount Diablo Unified School District.


Professional Working Groups and Associations

Central San’s education efforts are part of our pollution prevention strategy – our commitment to keep a variety of pollutants out of our system and out of our local environment. To support these pollution prevention goals, we actively participate in a number of regional and statewide committees to share our work more broadly and to learn from other agencies. Those groups include:

  • The Bay Area Consortium For Water & Wastewater Education (BACWWE) – a regional program that provides student scholarships for wastewater trainings.
  • Baywork – a collaboration of local agencies focused on regional workforce reliability.
  • The Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group (BAPPG) – a regional working group that provides public education on how to prevent Bay pollution.
  • The Water Education Committee, a statewide network of K-12 educators and outreach specialists at water and wastewater agencies across California.
  • The California Environmental Education Interagency Network (CEEIN), a consortium of environmental educators from across the state. 


Distance Learning

Interactive Bicycling and Walking Map

For 21 miles, the Iron Horse Trail pedestrian and bicycling path follows one of our sewer lines—nearly the entirety of the flow from the southeastern-most corner of our service area in San Ramon all the way to our treatment plant in Martinez. To help you see (and sometimes hear) the flow of wastewater along this path, we built a story map that follows the Iron Horse Trail and the wastewater infrastructure along the way. To view the full story map, please visit our Go With The Flow page


Virtual Tour Experience

Our 75th Anniversary Experience was produced in-house and used to bring individuals, families, and community groups virtually to explore our treatment plant, collections system, and several other facilities across our district. This resource enabled us to connect with our community while in-person tours of our facilities were unavailable. To view the full virtual tour experience, please visit our virtual experience page.

HeadworksSnap Content


Distance Learning Resources

Nearly all of the supplies we use in our programs are solid wastes diverted from landfill. This design proved very useful during the pandemic. It allowed us to do some great hands-on learning from a distance using common household items. This ensured that nearly everyone had the necessary materials available in order to participate. All of our distance learning workbooks – like the one below – were produced in-house and made available to all families within our service area and beyond. To view all of our distance learning resources, please visit our distance learning page.