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What Is in the Water?

Subjects

  • Environmental Health
  • Science
  • Process Skills

Grade

  • 6-8
  • 9-12
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Brief Description

Students compare bottled water qualities to water found naturally in a pond habitat.

Objectives

Students will
  • understand that the quality of water for human consumption and pond life varies greatly.

Keywords

water, Earth Day, water quality, environment, pond, habitat, aquatic, consumer

Materials Needed

  • water quality test kit
  • digital camera
  • thermometer
  • coliform kit
  • CBL probes
  • Internet access
  • nets
  • limnology (freshwater) field guides
  • microscope
  • magnifying glass
  • lab supplies

The Lesson

Part I -- Human Water Evaluation
In this lesson, which compares human bottled water with the optimum water needed for macro invertebrates in a pond, students do water-quality tests on different brands of bottled water. They research their state's laws/regulations in regard to bottled water and study the advertising, cost, and quality of brands of bottled water.

To begin the lesson, you might pre-test students' knowledge of both human drinking water and the quality of pond water.

Offer a selection of bottled water brands and have students select one. (Don't let them interact or discuss their selection with other students; they need to record their own reactions before interacting with a group.)

Have students record why they selected that bottle/brand. Give them time to discuss what they have written. Was it the packaging, advertisement, or peer/parent preference that influenced their selections? Or was it something else?

Ask students what questions they would like to ask f the manufacturer and write down their questions.

Form cooperative student groups based on students' bottle water selections. (Students who select brand X comprise one group, students who selected brand Y comprise another, and so on.) That way, all the students in a group have a stake in proving that their selection of bottled water is the best should keep a journal of brainstorming ideas, discussion threads, ideas expressed, research cited or completed, and Web sites referred to for possible use in the group's upcoming presentation.

Methods of Implementation
Students in each cooperative group then create a PowerPoint presentation about the bottled water they selected as the best product. They use the scientific method of reasoning and support their research with facts, experiments, surveys, and Internet sites. The groups have to be ready with facts and researched material for a question-and-answer section on their presentation. Following are some activities students might originate in order to make a case for their brand of bottled water.

Materials that might be needed: different brands of bottled water, advertisements for water brands, guidelines/laws regulating the description of bottled water (from the Internet or other sources), a water quality test kit, microscopes, slides, coliform test kits, CBL probes for temperature and pH

In their cooperative groups, students brainstorm what is actually in their water, how it meets state regulations for bottled drinking water, and how the product's advertisements meet the qualifications for those guidelines. Encourage students to use the Internet to ask questions of the bottle water manufacturers. They should keep all documentation in their folders.

Make sure students understand that just because research is found on the Internet does not ensure that it is factual or expert information, therefore they need to question and validate all information with experts in the field. They also need to keep a bibliography that lists cited links.

Students might even take it upon themselves to originate and conduct their own polls about the bottled-water-purchasing habits of people of different ages and of different ethnic and socio-economic populations. Or they might set up taste tests and conduct unbiased field experiments.

Students might conduct water quality tests on the different brands of water for use in their conclusion. Nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, salinity, and pH test results can be recorded in tables and charts for a PowerPoint presentation.

Part II -- Pond Water Evaluation

Materials that might be needed: water quality test kit, digital camera, thermometers, coliform kit, CBL probes, Internet access, lab glassware, nets, limnology (freshwater) field guides, microscopes, magnifying glasses

Students use their previous knowledge of bottled water for human consumption to help them as they "design" a special brand of "bottled water" that represents the best water to support a pond habitat. The following are among the activities the groups might contemplate:

  • Research optimum conditions for supporting both plant and animal life within a pond.
  • Conduct basic chemical tests of pond water quality such as tests for dissolved oxygen, pH, phosphate, nitrates, and turbidity.
  • Use biological parameters such as micro and macro invertebrate's species levels, coliform bacteria tests, and other biological indicators of healthy or polluted water.
  • Use expert advisors from their state Parks and Wildlife division or Forest Service -- or from organizations such as the U.S. Fish and Game Service, local river and watershed groups, and nearby colleges and universities -- to help set parameters for water conditions.
  • Use the Internet to research specific water conditions in their region.
  • Create packaging, advertising, logos, letters of endorsement, and a slide campaign to introduce their product.

Assessment

The culminating activity is the product advertisement campaign that students present to peers, parents, scientists, and school administrators. Their scientific journals and folders of collected data should be on display along with their final presentations. Students compare the quality of water for humans and pond life and discover that there is a large difference in water qualities.

The students are given a post-test on their knowledge of water quality for both human consumption and pond life.

Submitted By

Susan Sanders, Central Junior High School in Pollok, Texas


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04/09/2004