Fishy Mixture Water Quality Inquiry Lab (Part 4/4)

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SWBAT identify, classify and separate different types of mixtures based on physical and chemical properties of matter.

Big Idea

Students explore how complicated mixtures are all around us, affecting us in ways we rarely think about. While some mixtures help us, they may harm the environment.


The Fishy Mixture Water Quality Inquiry Lab is an inquiry project including multiple lessons taught over the span of 1 to 2 weeks. To help manage the magnitude of this project, you will find the project split into 4 parts.

  • Part 1 includes the ENGAGE and EXPLORE components of the lesson; Time: 2 - 3 50-minute lessons or equivalent block periods. 
  • Part 2 includes the EXPLAIN component of the lesson; Time: 1 50-minute lesson.
  • Part 3 includes the EXTEND component of the lesson; Time: 2 -3 50-minute lessons or equivalent block periods.
  • Part 4 includes the EVALUATE component of the lesson; Time 2 50-minute lessons or equivalent block period.

Next Generation Science Standards

This lesson utilizes many of the Next Generation Science Standards. I've described how these standards are met in this video.

In addition, details of the alignments of content standard to concepts and practices are found in the resource Fishy Mixture NGSS Alignment.


100 minutes

The purpose for the EVALUATION stage is for both students and teachers to determine how much learning and understanding has taken place. To accomplish this goal, we complete several activities:

1) We evaluate the water samples using the Fishy Mixture Water Quality Rubric (Water Quality Scoring Rubric Example). I often bring the samples up to the front and we evaluate the samples together as a way of sharing our data. During this time, we share what separation methods were successful and which were not. This video explains the evaluation of the water samples:

2) Students plan and write a RECALL Lab Conclusion (see these related lessons: Writing a RECALL Lab Conclusion Part 1 and Part 2) using the graphic organizer in the Fishy Mixture Lab Sheet. I often give students a choice about how they want to present this information: finalize their planning into a final lab report or finalize their planning into a final creative presentation (Prezi, Google slideshow, Infographic, Google poster). For examples of student RECALL Lab Conclusions, view these: Fishy Mixture RECALL Student Example 1, Fishy Mixture RECALL Student Example 2 and Fishy Mixture RECALL Planning Student Example. For writing rubrics, try: Scientific Communication Rubric or Argument from Evidence Rubric.

3) Upon completion of this project, a final class discussion using several prompts to assess what we have learned and think about next steps is an appropriate closing activity. These prompts may include:

  - What can you conclude about separating mixtures from this activity?

  - What do you think we should do to save the white sucker fish?

  - What other types of mixtures might be harmful to humans or the environment?

  - Whose responsibility is it to provide us with safe water?