|Grade span:||8 to 12|
|Duration:||This project could last at least two months. Daily session length will vary according to how you set your timeline. Some sessions will last longer than others, and some may be repeated.|
Description:In this lesson, students and afterschool instructors work with community members to understand their local environment. Students test creek water temperature, measure the Ph, or acidity, and other characteristics of the water. They use digital photography to document their activities as well as handheld computers to record water testing data. When they return to their classroom, they log on to the project Web site, enter their data, and upload their pictures. Technology plays an important role in this lesson as students use an online community to collaborate about similar issues on a global scale.
- Understand the local environment and issues that affect it.
- Compare local environmental issues to other communities' environmental issues.
- Practice scientific inquiry through questioning, hypothesizing, observing and recording data, and analyzing and communicating results.
- Use scientific tools to measure.
- Keep journals or records of scientific investigations.
- Use technology to gather and share information and solve problems.
- Safety goggles or spectacles
- Collection bags
- Water-testing kits for laptop or handheld computer probes (available at science-supply stores and online; probes are optional)
- Digital camera
- Handheld or laptop computers with spreadsheet software (optional)
- Materials for recording data, if you are not using handhelds or laptops
- Computer with projector, large screen display, or interactive whiteboard to display data as it is gathered, analyzed, and shared
- Adult or older student volunteers to help with technology and field trips
Preparation:Instructors should determine students' computer skill levels and select appropriate technology tools. Instructors should also have familiarity with any software or equipment used in the lesson, or enlist the help of a volunteer who does.
- Study thoroughly the collaborative online project, The Global Water Sampling Project: An Investigation of Water Quality at www.k12science.org/curriculum/waterproj/index.shtml. This project is the basis for this lesson.
- Arrange for a community member to come talk students about water quality on the first day of the project. This can be an environmental scientist, chemist, biologist, etc., from the city parks department, college, city or state water quality board, or the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Use this lesson plan as well as the online project plan and dates to set up a project timeline.
- Spend time researching local environmental issues and identifying some potential locations to collect water samples.
- Communicate with parents regarding project plans, including timeline and field trips.
- Collect necessary materials, for both science and technology portions of the activity. Practice using materials.
- Adults must supervise all data collection and clean-up. Choose the area wisely, looking for the safest environment for students.
- Students must wear gloves for clean-up and use goggles when any water-testing chemicals are used.
- Do not collect data when a storm is forecast; observe the sky for rain showers and thunderstorms. Avoid streams in high water.
- Have a first-aid kit for all outings, sturdy shoes, and proper clothing, including protection from the sun.
What to Do:Engage students in environmental study.
- Invite a guest speaker to discuss and share pictures of local streams and/or ponds showing the environmental conditions of the area and explaining the impact of water quality on a community.
- Take the students online to The Global Water Sampling Project: An Investigation of Water Quality (www.k12science.org/curriculum/waterproj/index.shtml)
- Discuss with your students the collaborative project and what it entails.
- Lead students in conducting Internet research about the site where they will complete the project. If your students will be participating in creek restoration or cleanup as part of the project, encourage them to research that topic as well.
- To create a record of their work, students can keep electronic journals, either with word processing software or blogs.
- Have students look at the online project Web site and plan for your field testing.
- Develop a hypothesis (a proposal that students will try to prove or disprove with the data) on water quality and what students expect to see in the data.
- Have students test water for the pH level (acidity), nitrates, dissolved oxygen, and other physical parameters.
- Follow the online project guide for specifics on sample collection.
- Record data on handheld, laptop computer spreadsheet.
- Document your field testing by taking pictures with a digital camera.
- Students may want to add pictures to electronic journal.
- Log on to the Global Water Sampling Project Web site and submit the data you collected.
- Upload pictures to project Web site.
- As a class, analyze the data you collected and decide whether it proves or disproves your hypothesis.
- Have students use technology to share their findings by posting comments in the project discussion area, contacting an expert in the resources listed on the project Web site, or writing in their electronic journals.
- Investigate opportunities for students to participate in creek restoration projects and measure the impact of their work.
- Invite local or state environmental agencies to talk to students about careers in environmental sciences.
- Have students create final reports and displays, and invite families and community members to see their work.