Film Guide for PBS' Poisoned Water | Lead Crisis in Flint, MI

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  1. This unit is designed to teach students about the dangers of contaminants in water (such as lead) and to empower them to learn more about what is in their own tap water. There are 5 lessons included (the first is free). The last is an online research project.This interdisciplinary unit would work
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This free resource is the first lesson in the Clean Water Unit which explores the following guiding questions:

  • What happened in Flint? (Lesson 1)
  • What does lead do to the human body? (Lesson 2)
  • Why is water essential, and how do we ensure it is safe? (Lesson 3)
  • How does environmental justice apply to water? (Lesson 4)
  • How safe/clean is your tap water? (Lesson 5)

The documentary details what occurred during the Flint water crisis in which lead from pipes contaminated a community's drinking water. The powerful film relies upon interviews with Flint residents, scientists, and the brave individuals who spoke truth to power and ultimately forced government officials to address the health crisis.

★ PBS' Poisoned Water documentary is available online here until 2023. (The documentary is also available for purchase.)

★ This a Google Drive resource that is copied directly to your drive. There is a PDF-only version available here.

What's included in this resource (Lesson 1):

>>> 2 versions of student film guides (one with 15 questions; the other with 30). For both guides A and B, there is a Google Slides version with text boxes added for student responses as well as a PDF copy.

>>> Discussion questions for students are included on the film guides & are also affixed on Google Slides for a class discussion

>>> A teacher guide with a lesson plan, tips, and strategies for implementing via distance learning

★ Have a question? Send me an email at

This work was supported by a generous grant through the Teachers Pay Teachers Teach for Justice program (2020).

A few years ago, a student in my class researched (soil) lead levels around our community for a science fair project. Classmates were shocked to learn that there was a nearby Superfund site and surprised by elevated lead levels in a park closest to the site. Her project inspired her classmates (and me!) to pay more attention to environmental contamination and the issue of environmental justice. My goal is for students to able to better understand potential contaminants in their own backyards and communities through the lens of environmental justice.


I’m a science educator with a background in lab research, a passion for the classroom, and now, homeschooling my little scientists. Thanks for checking out my resources! To get updates on products, sales, and of course, freebies, follow my store by clicking here.

Important Terms of Use

This resource was created for single classroom use only (as a teacher, you are free to use this for your classes). Multiple licenses are available at a discount. Please do not post this resource online (with the exception of password-protected platforms granting digital access only to your students). Thank you for respecting teacher authorship!

Failure to comply is a copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Copyright 2020 by Brilliant Dust. All rights reserved by the author.

Total Pages
10 pages
Answer Key
Not Included
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


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