Experimental Inquiry: The Impacts of Water Pollution on Aquatic Life

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • PDF
11 pages
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If you're looking for a fun, engaging, and skill-building approach to teaching the impacts of water pollution on aquatic organisms to your high school environmental science students, this experimental inquiry activity is for you.

Students will investigate the impacts that water pollutants, such as detergents, have on aquatic life and ecosystems through student-led experimentation using the principles of student-directed open inquiry.

Students will make observations about the impacts that various water pollutants have on aquatic life, develop their own questions about the impacts that different pollutants have on Elodea (or any other accessible freshwater organism), design their own experiments to test their questions, analyze their results, and draw conclusions based on results and additional research.

This resource includes a teacher guide for facilitating this student-centered learning experience with a list of materials, modification options, and more. It also includes the templates required for brainstorming and carrying out this inquiry experiment.

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.

This resource includes:

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

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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.
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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