Water Watchers - Part 2

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SWBAT observe a groundwater model and contamination clean up.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students listen to a guest speaker and observe an aquifer model to see how groundwater may be contaminated and then cleaned through filtration.

Preparing for Guest Speaker

5 minutes

This is part two of a two part lesson series about healthy water and healthy streams. All fourth graders in my district participate in a week long healthy water program.

I begin this lesson by asking students to talk with a partner and recall as many ideas as they can about what keeps water healthy.  Students learned some key vocabulary words as well as read a magazine in yesterday's lesson.     

I remind students that we all need clean water.  We drink it.  We fish, swim, boat and enjoy it in our streams and lakes.  It irrigates our crops, is used by our businesses, and helps keep our yards and parks green.  I remind students that in our county, the The Lewis and Clark County Water Quality Protection District has worked to preserve, protect, and improve water quality since 1992.  

Many of my students grow up fishing and hunting and clean water is imperative for animal survival as well. While learning about healthy and unhealthy streams is not a fourth grade NGSS standard, several topics covered during this week long project are. Over the course of the week, students visit a stream and catch bugs and fish. They learn about different fish structures that enable fish to survive or not survive in certain streams in our state.  They see first hand examples of water erosion near a stream bank and brainstorm ideas about how to reduce or slow this erosion. 

In science, models are used to represent a system (or parts of a system) under study, to aid in the development of questions and explanations, to generate data that can be used to make predictions, and to communicate ideas to others. Students can be expected to evaluate and refine models through an iterative cycle of comparing their predictions with the real world and then adjusting them to gain insights into the phenomenon being modeled. As such, models are based upon evidence. When new evidence is uncovered that the models can’t explain, models are modified.

Today's lesson involves a guest speaker coming to class to show the affects of unhealthy streams using an aquifier model.  While students don't have the opportunity to use the model in this lesson, they will observe the model and answer various questions presented by the guest speaker.  An extension to this lesson could be having students create their own aquifier model and observe groundwater and contamination clean up.  


Guest Speaker demonstrations

30 minutes

Note:  While the activities in this lesson are being carried out by a guest speaker, a classroom teacher could also do these activities. Please check out the resources for other activies you could in your classroom if an aquifer model is not available. (polluted water 1.pdfpolluted water 2.pdf polluted water 4.pdfpolluted water 3.pdfpolluted water 5.pdf)


Our class guest speaker begins this lesson by asking students where our drinking water comes from.

Listen in as a student explains that our drinking water comes from lakes.  


Students are led in a discussion about pollution being harmful to water.  Then, the guest speaker tells students a story about getting his well tested to ensure the water is safe to drink. You can see in this video that he has added blue water to the display to students can see this is the polluted water that is not clean.  


Next, our guest uses a pump to pump some of the contaminated water out.  Students watch as the blue become less blue and the water pumped out is nearly clear.  Listen in as students watch the water being pumped through the aquifer.  You'll hear several students say they "don't see anything" because they are looking for blue water. 



Wrap Up

10 minutes

To wrap up this lesson, I show students this website.  This website is an interactive site that allows students to see a groundwater model via online.  It also serves as a reminder and tool to show that much of our drinking water goes to a treatment plan.  (In my district, students continue learning about healthy water in fifth grade and tour our town's treatment facility)  I give students several minutes to turn and talk to a learning partner and list three new pieces of information learned and three things they are still wondering about.  After students have talked about the new knowledge gained with their learning partner, student then write those three things in their science notebooks. 



120 minutes

As an extension, my students participated in a field trip to a local stream.  While at the stream, students collected bugs as another way to identify if the local stream water was healthy. Students also tested the acidity of the water and the temperature of the water.  By observing what kinds of bugs were caught, and how many of each bug students discussed with a local Fish Wildlife and Parks expert about the inner connectedness of living things, sun, and water.