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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 - how pollutants enter the water table, 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 impacts, 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.
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. This product includes:
Impacts of Water Pollution on Aquatic Life open inquiry activity:
This student-directed open inquiry activity is also scientific inquiry where students make observations about water pollution and the impacts it has on aquatic ecosystems. They will test their question using Elodea or any other freshwater aquatic organism of your choosing. This resource includes:
Water Pollution from Fertilizers problem-based learning:
Students will take on the issue of water pollution from agricultural and lawn fertilizers around the world. 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:
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.
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, and acidification, among others.) They will then plan a course of action to make change and act on it. For example, they decide 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 experience 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.
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