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What's Up in the Environment?
OVERVIEW | procedures

Class Projects  Contaminated Water


Introduction

Rivers, lakes and other bodies of water in your community are vital components of the local ecosystem, supporting a variety of animal and plant life. In this project, students will research a local body of water to find out if it has a history of pollution, visit the site to make observations and do water quality tests, and study the pollution’s effect on plants and animals. Finally, students will decide on a course of action to help clean up the site.

This project incorporates elements of the scientific method.

Grade level
Middle school, but can be adapted to suit other grades

Time allotment
Up to 1 semester

Subject matter
Main focus on environmental science, with language arts and social studies connections

Learning objectives
Students will:
  • Gain an understanding of the scientific method and use the scientific method to conduct all phases of the project.

  • Learn the importance of bodies of fresh water to local animals and plants.

  • Find out how a local body of water became contaminated, and study the effects of the contamination.

  • Take a field trip to conduct a variety of water tests and observations at the site.

  • Decide on and implement an appropriate course of action to help clean up the site.
Standards
  • North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
    Excellence in Environmental Education: Guidelines for Learning
    http://naaee.org/npeee/learner_guidelines.html
    Strand 1—Questioning and Analysis Skills (Guidelines A, B, C, D, E, G); Strand 2.2—The Living Environment (A, C, D); Strand 2.3—Humans and Their Societies (C, E); Strand 2.4—Environment and Society (A, B); Strand 3.1—Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues (A, B, C, D); Strand 3.2—Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills (A, B, C, D); Strand 4—Personal and Civic Responsibility (B, C).

  • Technology Foundation Standards for Students
    http://www.iste.org/standards
    Standard 1: Basic operations and concepts; Standard 3: Technology productivity tools; Standard 4: Technology communications tools; Standard 5: Technology research tools.

Assessment

Students will write about their project and then create a Web site or scrap book about their experiences to share with others. Students are also encouraged to notify their local newspaper to raise awareness about their project.

Computer resources
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above
  • Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
  • RealPlayer plug-in. Download for free at http://www.real.com
Materials needed
  • WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT video (optional)
  • For the water illustration ­ graphics software such as Paint or Illustrator; OR paper, markers, glue, scissors, photographs.
  • For water tests -water testing kit (check with your local EPA official for recommendations on the best ones)
  • For field trip - field guide (or use the free downloadable one from enature.com ­ see listing in Bookmarked Web site list)
  • Excel (if you choose to have students create graphs using this program)
Online resources

Teacher tool Web sites

  • Instructional Technology Resource Page
    http://www.itsconnection.com
    This site gives free online instructions on the use of many kinds of software including Excel, PowerPoint, and MS Word.

  • Earth Force's Global Rivers Environmental Education Network
    http://www.green.org/resources/ #Identifying Watershed Problems
    This directory page gives access to information about water testing kits, making site evaluations, and more.

  • Environmental Protection Agency ­ Contact Information
    http://www.epa.gov/epahome/comments.htm
    Scroll down to the map and click on your region to get contact information for your local EPA office.

  • Enature.com ­ Online Field Guide
    http://www.enature.com/guides/select_group.asp
    Access free wildlife and plant field guides on this site, or ask an expert naturalist for help. You can request information specific to your region, but it does require that you input an e-mail address and zip code.

Bookmark these Web sites for student research
  • United States Geological Survey ­ Water Education Site
    http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/mwater.html
    Have students take the online water quiz, or surf around to get some basics about water. If you don't have enough computers in your class, you can print out the quiz, or make your own based on the one posted on this site.

  • Environment Canada
    http://www.ec.gc.ca/water/en/manage/poll/ e_life.htm
    This site provides an easy-to-read introduction to the importance of clean water.

  • WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT Hot Topics Water
    water.html
    Visit the page on our site to get a quick picture of how the need for water impacted a community in the Everglades.

  • River Network
    http://www.rivernetwork.org
    The River Network is a national organization that seeks to connect river conservationists with the information that they need. The site provides listings of local resources, as well as links to useful resources. Since there is so much information on this site, you may want to preview it with your students.

  • Earth Force's Global Rivers Environmental Education Network
    http://www.green.org/resources/ #Identifying Watershed Problems
    This Web site offers a wealth of resources for identifying and monitoring contaminated watersheds. It includes an online monitoring database and community action tool.

  • Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water ­ Surf Your Watershed
    http://www.epa.gov/surf/
    This section of the EPA site has a national listing of information about bodies of water. Use this site to find out about watersheds in your area.

  • United States Geological Survey ­ Education Resources
    http://water.usgs.gov/education.html
    Have students take the online water quiz, or surf around to get some basics about water. If you don't have enough computers in your class, you can print out the quiz, or make your own based on the one posted on this site.

  • Give Water a Hand
    http://www.uwex.edu/erc/gwah/
    This site is devoted to informing young people about the part they can take in protecting bodies of water. Download action plans and more.

  • National Wildlife Federation: Take Action
    http://www.nwf.org/action/howtos/
    This site gives great advice on how to write to local media, write press releases, plan campaigns, and more.

  • Web Page Building Sites
    http://www.homestead.com
    http://build.tripod.com/classroom/demo/
    http://www.myschoolonline.com
    If students want to create their own Web sites, but do not know html, have them use the pre-made templates from these sites to create their pages.
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