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Activity: Students will investigate the impact water pollutants have on aquatic life and ecosystems through student-led experimentation. They will use the principles of student-directed open inquiry. Students will make observations about the impacts that various water pollutants have on aquatic life based on prior experience and knowledge. Students will about the impact different pollutants have on Elodea (or any other accessible freshwater organism), 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.
Age group: Open inquiry in theory is appropriate for all ages because it is personalized. Students ask their own questions and design their own investigations. The guiding materials included in this resource, however, are geared more toward high school students as far as language and format is concerned. Having some experience with inquiry-based learning and experimental design is helpful but not mandatory. You are there to help guide them through this activity, as are the guiding materials included in this resource. You can use this resource to teach students about inquiry-based learning and how to design an experiment if you are up for that. This activity is also great for seasoned inquiry-based learners. In other words, there is no specific grade level or this resource. Consider the population you are working with and your own teaching objectives.
Materials and prep: Teachers will need to provide various pollutants such as detergents and fertilizers (pollutant ideas are listed in the resource) as well as any aquatic organism in bulk. I recommend Elodea as it is cheap, easily accessible, and easy to work with and maintain. Prep includes gathering and setting up lab materials and printing and distributing copies of templates included in this resource.
For more tips on how to implement student-directed open inquiry activities, including helpful scaffolding questions, visit Experiential Learning Depot Blog.
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