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Water Pollution Unit: Student-Directed Learning Bundle

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • Zip
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40 pages
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Products in this Bundle (4)


    Earth Day Inquiry Bingo

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    Student-directed learning allows for students to direct the learning experience through a series of choices. Included in this product are problem-based learning, project-based learning, service learning, and scientific open inquiry activities. This resource covers an entire water pollution unit using a combination of these student-directed learning activities - the chemistry of pollutants and how they change the chemistry of the water, the sources of water pollution, the impact water pollution can have on aquatic ecosystems, water pollution in the context of real-world impact, and solutions to the problem of water pollution from human activities.

    All of the content knowledge gained in this unit falls under the "Earth and Human Activity" NGSS. What's more is that the skills utilized and developed in these activities are in the NGSS as well, such as problem-solving solutions (PrBL), using technology to demonstrate learning (PBL), and gathering evidence to support an explanation (scientific inquiry), among others. Most importantly, student-directed activities like the ones included here help develop lifelong learning skills.

    Resources included in the bundle:

    ***The activities are best implemented in the order shown here***

    1) Sources of Water Pollution open inquiry activity:

    Student-directed open inquiry is when students make observations, ask their own question, and investigate the question through experimentation (in this case). Students ask questions about water pollutants and their sources, and test their question using freshwater samples from the watersheds in the community. This product includes:

    • Teacher guide
    • Brainstorming activity
    • Investigation planner
    • Reflection

    2) Impacts of Water Pollution on Aquatic Life open inquiry activity:

    This student-directed open inquiry activity is also scientific inquiry where students will make observations about water pollution and the impact it can have on aquatic ecosystems. Students will ask questions about how certain pollutants will affect an aquatic organism like Elodea, design an experiment to test their question, and conduct the experiment. This resource includes:

    • Teacher guide
    • Brainstorming activity
    • Investigation planner guide/organizer
    • Reflection guide

    3) Water Pollution from Fertilizers problem-based learning activity:

    Students will take on the issue of water pollution caused by agricultural and lawn fertilizers. Students will deeply investigate the problem using a variety of sources, including collaboration with the community. Students could interview experts, locate relevant literature such as journal articles, shadow a farmer, watch a webinar on the latest technologies, conduct their own experiments to test viable solutions, etc. They will then propose a comprehensive solution plan to the class. This resource includes:

    • Teacher guide
    • Problem description
    • Research planner
    • Concept maps/organizers
    • Presentation/proposal checklist
    • Reflection
    • Rubric

    4) Vice News Series Worksheets and Extension Activities:

    Worksheets and extension activities are included in this resource that go along with two Vice News episodes related to water pollution. Vice News shows the issue of water pollution in real-world contexts. Both episodes included here are available on Youtube by Vice - Meathooked and India's Water Crisis.

    5) Community Action Project (project-based learning):

    This student-directed project-based learning resource is meant as a wrap-up to this unit on water pollution. Students will take all of their skills and knowledge gained from the previous activity to plan their community action projects. Students will study one specific topic under the theme of water pollution of their choosing (such as ocean plastics, bioaccumulation and human consumption of fish, acidification, etc.) They will then plan a course of action to make change and act on it. Problem-based learning is all in theory. This project requires that students actively make change. For example, a student decides to focus on ocean plastics. They plan to start a pledge program for citizens to refuse single-use straws. Students create a website and related social media pages for those that pledge as a place to document their progress and hold each other accountable. Students also decide to meet with local legislators to pass an ordinance that requires local restaurants to use straws that are recyclable or compostable. Students use project-based learning principles throughout the course of this project. This resource includes:

    • Teacher guide
    • Project topic brainstorming activities
    • Brainstorming activity supplemental materials
    • Two project proposal templates (1 - research the issue, 2- take action)
    • Exploring solutions brainstorming guide
    • Rubric 1: teacher-created rubric for project part 1 - researching the issue
    • Rubric 2: student-generated rubric template for project part 2 - taking action
    • Category and levels of mastery word banks for student-generated rubrics
    • Daily check-in form
    • Project reflection guide sheet

    Thank you for using this product! If you love this product check out these other related student-directed resources:

    Student-Directed Learning Toolkit Bundle: PBL, PrBL, and Inquiry-Based Learning

    Project-Based Learning: Hometown Behind the Scenes (Businesses)

    VIce News Series Bundle

    Follow Experiential Learning Depot and earn TpT credits by giving feedback on this product. A sincere thank you for your business. Feel free to contact me through email at any time with questions on this product - experientiallearningdepot@gmail.com

    For more experiential learning tips, resources, freebies, etc. visit my blog, experientiallearningdepot.com

    Terms of Use:

    Thank you for using this product! Experiential Learning Depot owns the copyright to this resource and you are being licensed as a single user of this product. You may use this product for multiple classrooms and reference the product in blogs, seminars and/or workshops. You may not remove Experiential Learning Depot from the resource, give the product away for free, sell the files, make copies for unlicensed users, or gain access to the resource through means of any of the previously listed methods. Thank you again for using this product! Please reach out if you have questions or comments about this resource. Come visit us again soon!

    ~ Sara S.

    Total Pages
    40 pages
    Answer Key
    Rubric only
    Teaching Duration
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    to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
    Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
    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.
    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.
    Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems. Examples of data on the impacts of human activities could include the quantities and types of pollutants released, changes to biomass and species diversity, or areal changes in land surface use (such as for urban development, agriculture and livestock, or surface mining). Examples for limiting future impacts could range from local efforts (such as reducing, reusing, and recycling resources) to large-scale geoengineering design solutions (such as altering global temperatures by making large changes to the atmosphere or ocean).
    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.


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