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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Contaminated Water

Lesson Description:
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.
Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Water

GEF Program Category:
  • Sustainable Water Challenge

Time Needed:
Up to 1 semester
Standards Addressed:

North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Excellence in Environmental Education:

  • Guidelines:
  • 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

  • Guidelines:
  • Standard 1: Basic operations and concepts
  • Standard 3: Technology productivity tools
  • Standard 4: Technology communications tools
  • Standard 5: Technology research tools.

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
  • Sissors 
  • 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 ­ see listing in bookmarked web site list)
  • Excel (if you choose to have students create graphs using this program)

School or Group:
Contact Email:
Located in: Science

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