About Let's Talk About Water

Let's Talk About Water is an annual Fall competition that supports the production of short science films and events that include a film screening. 

LTAW uses film as a catalyst for discussion about important water issues. Films can be powerful educational tools for the sciences because they use storytelling to engage audience emotionally, which: 

  • heightens a general audience's interest in science content; 
  • helps the audience make meaningful connections with the subject matter; 
  • aids scientists in contextualizing their work; 
  • and catalyzes a conversation

Documentary films are especially good at creating teachable moments and providing opportunities to apply critical thinking skills by testing the validity of the films' message. 

The LTAW event formula is simple; a panel of experts and the audience view a water-related film together followed by a moderated discussion between the panel and the audience. Moderators actively manage the discussion by challenging the panelists with follow up questions, asking questions to simplify language, and encouraging different points of view. 

As a scientist, LTAW events give you the opportunity to tell the story of your work in a way that connects with a general audience. 

Learn more about developing a Let's Talk About Water event in this EOS article. CUAHSI has developed resources for hosting your own Let's Talk About Water event. Check them out here

Check out the recording of the LTAW Short Film Showcase webinar here!


Student groups or university faculty are eligible to apply for a Challenge Grant, but the grant must be awarded to a U.S. university, therefore the applicant must be affiliated with a university. 

Student groups are asked to provide a letter of support from a faculty advisor. 


I am a student. Can I apply for a Challenge Grant?

Yes! Some of our most creative events have been organized by student groups. We ask that student groups submit a letter of support from a faculty advisor who agrees to over see the project and help with the grant management.

I’m a university staff member, not a professor. Can I apply for a Challenge Grant?

Yes! Applicants must be affiliated with a US university, but do not need to be a professor to apply.

Do in kind donations count as matching funds?

Yes, we will accept in kind donations as part of the matching funds, such as the cost of a venue or faculty’s time. Please be sure to include this in the budget.

Are indirect costs allowed in the budget?

No, indirect costs are not allowed in the Challenge Grant budget.

If selected, when will I receive the Challenge Grant award?

Notification of Challenge Grant award winners will be made in December. The Challenge Grant is awarded as a reimbursement after the completion of the event, meaning that costs should be covered by the event organizer up front. CUAHSI staff can also work with event organizers to pay directly for event costs if needed.

Do you have recommendations for films to use?

Yes! CUAHSI has created a Film Guide that includes frequently used films and ideas to engage the audience. Check it out here!

Photo Credits: Jennifer Cohen (LTAW event at Oregon State University)