Experimental Design: Sources of Water Pollution

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • PDF
11 pages
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Water pollution experiments for high school students are often presented as step-by-step recipes with a teacher-developed question for students to investigate. Why not take a real-world approach to water pollution studies that also helps students build essential skills? Experimental inquiry is just the way to do that.

Students will investigate water pollutants and their sources through student-led experimentation, meaning they will develop their own questions about sources of water pollution, design their own experiments to test their questions, analyze their results, and draw conclusions based on results and additional research. Students will direct the inquiry experience and you will facilitate.

This resource is a teacher guide to help you facilitate this experience. The guide offers investigation examples, modification ideas for different skill levels, material suggestions, a facilitation outline, and more. The resource also includes student templates to design and carry out their inquiry investigations on sources of water pollution.

Suggested Materials:

This resource requires a variety of real-world water samples such as tap water, water from various local swimming beaches, rivers, pond water, filtered water, bottled water, etc. The samples will depend on student investigations, OR, you could provide a set of water samples and ask that students ask questions and develop experiments around those samples. You will also need water quality testing supplies for this inquiry experience.

"Very helpful handouts for designing a water testing experiment, thank you."- Grace

This resource includes:

  1. Teacher guide
  2. Brainstorming activity
  3. Investigation/experiment templates
  4. Reflection questions
  5. Experimental inquiry rubric

This resource includes all of the guiding materials necessary to accomplish such an important learning experience. There is a printable and digital option (to be used with Google Apps).

Note: The PDF is not editable. The digital version offers the option to overlay text and images and to remove or delete slides to fit your needs.

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Total Pages
11 pages
Answer Key
Rubric only
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes. Emphasis is on mechanical and chemical investigations with water and a variety of solid materials to provide the evidence for connections between the hydrologic cycle and system interactions commonly known as the rock cycle. Examples of mechanical investigations include stream transportation and deposition using a stream table, erosion using variations in soil moisture content, or frost wedging by the expansion of water as it freezes. Examples of chemical investigations include chemical weathering and recrystallization (by testing the solubility of different materials) or melt generation (by examining how water lowers the melting temperature of most solids).
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity. Examples of key natural resources include access to fresh water (such as rivers, lakes, and groundwater), regions of fertile soils such as river deltas, and high concentrations of minerals and fossil fuels. Examples of natural hazards can be from interior processes (such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes), surface processes (such as tsunamis, mass wasting and soil erosion), and severe weather (such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts). Examples of the results of changes in climate that can affect populations or drive mass migrations include changes to sea level, regional patterns of temperature and precipitation, and the types of crops and livestock that can be raised.
Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity. Examples of Earth systems to be considered are the hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, and/or biosphere. An example of the far-reaching impacts from a human activity is how an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide results in an increase in photosynthetic biomass on land and an increase in ocean acidification, with resulting impacts on sea organism health and marine populations. Assessment does not include running computational representations but is limited to using the published results of scientific computational models.
Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem. Examples of changes in ecosystem conditions could include modest biological or physical changes, such as moderate hunting or a seasonal flood; and, extreme changes, such as volcanic eruption or sea level rise.
Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales. Examples of mathematical representations include finding the average, determining trends, and using graphical comparisons of multiple sets of data. Assessment is limited to provided data.


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