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Acid Rain. Where Have all the Rainbows Gone?

Secondary

Description

This resource introduces students to the basics of pH in the context of acid rain precipitation and the environmental  damage it causes.  It also allows students to gain an understanding of the underlying social and economic dimensions of the problem. The message is that acid rain is a product of human activity.  It alters soil chemistry and these changes effect ecosystems and their sustainability.

Activities in this resource include an introduction to the effects of acid precipitation on forest and aquatic life, a soil pH lab, a group discussion about the social and economic  considerations of acid rain production, and a wrap-up lesson which highlights how these complex social and economic issues are preventing a speedy solution.

Day One: Introduction 

 After a brief introduction students read the article “Acid rain precipitation and its implications for forest productivity” and complete study guide questions. A slide show summarizes the different forms and sources of acid precipitation, explains the pH scale and acidity, raises some of the environmental effects of acid precipitation, and briefly describes both natural and cultural controls to decease the effect of acid precipitation.

Day Two: Soil pH lab

Groups of students collect soil samples and conduct plant and animal surveys in a variety of locations around the school yard.  They then use a soil pH kit to determine the pH of the various samples.  They compare their findings with other groups and reflect on how soils with different pH levels also support the growth of different types of plants

Day Three: Group Discussion and Role Play

Students are divided into teams of three or four students to discuss issues related to acid rain production from different perspectives including electric utility companies, elected officials, environmental protection agencies, conservation and ecology groups, residential consumers of electricity, industrial consumers of electricity, outdoor recreational users, fishers, farmers and forest harvesters.

Day Four: Wrap-up

Students discuss the results of the soil lab and participate in a  discussion of the many complex social and economic issues that prevent a simple and speedy solution to the acid precipitation problem. Emphasis is placed on the link between our dependence on fossil fuels and acid precipitation.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Organizing and correctly using appropriate apparatus and materials to collect reliable experimental data
  • Analyzing and interpreting trends in data
  • Working cooperatively with group members to carry out a plan
  • Communicating data effectively
  • Responding and reflecting on written and media text
  • Listening critically to others thoughts, ideas, and points of view

Strengths

  • Experiential learning is authentic and involves activities in their community
  • Has local focus
  • Case studies provided
  • Slide show and suggested discussion questions (and answers) are included
  • Good background information
  • Links are provided for related lab activities
  • Resource is easy to use,and demonstrates effectively the complexity that characterizes environmental issues.
  • Group work allows for shared dialogue, and incidental peer teaching
  • Provides an out-of-doors learning opportunity

Weaknesses

  • Assessment tools must be developed by the teacher
  • Resource is written for a Pennsylvanian audience and acid rain data for local areas must be researched by the classroom teacher to bring more local focus
  • No activities are suggested for students to take positive action in the community

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource could be used in a chemistry class that is addressing outcomes related to acidic and basic solutions, pH and buffers. In addition, it would be very relevant in an environmental science class which is studying the mechanisms and environmental damage associated with the production of acid rain as related to the burning of fossil fuels. Social studies and geography classes could use the resource to examine the impact that human activity has had on the sustainability of the planet, and the complex social and environmental issues that prevent easy solutions to the problem.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 9
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Environmental Investigations
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Chemistry
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Environmental Chemistry (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
    • Grade 10
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 14:Investigating Matter and Energy in the Environment
    • Grade 11
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      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 20: Matter as Solutions, Acids and Bases
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 24:Applications of Matter and Chemical Change
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 30: Chemical Equilibrium Focusing on Acid-Base Systems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
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    • Grade 10
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      • Science
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        • Chemical processes require energy change as atoms are rearranged
        • Energy is conserved and its transformation can affect living things and the environment
    • Grade 11
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
    • Grade 12
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      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 12: Acid or base strength depends on the degree of ion dissociation
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.
        • Physical Geography 12: Interactions between human activities and the atmosphere affect local and global weather and climate
  • Manitoba
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      • Science
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        • Senior 2 Science: Dynamics of Ecosystems
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        • Solutions
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        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
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      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 40S:Acids and Bases
      • Social Studies
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        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
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    • Grade 12
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      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Acids and Bases
        • Chemistry 121 /122
      • Environmental Science
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        • Advanced Environmental Science 120: Earth Systems
        • Advanced Environmental Science 120:Introduction to the human sphere
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: An Overview of Environmental Science
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Sustainable Development
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Sustainability of Ecosystems
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      • Science
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        • Science 2200: Ecosytems
    • Grade 12
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      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 3202: Acids and Bases
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        • Environmental Science 3205: Introduction to Environmental Science
        • Environmental Science 3205: Water Use & the Environment
      • Geography
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        • World Geography 3200/3202: Ecosystems
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        • General Science 3200 : Chemical Reactions
  • Northwest Territories
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        • Environmental Chemistry
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        • Chemistry 20: Matter as Solutions, Acids and Bases
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        • Science 20-4:Applications of Matter and Chemical Change
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      • Chemistry
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        • Chemistry 30: Chemical Equilibrium Focusing on Acid-Base Systems
      • Science
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        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • Nova Scotia
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      • Social Studies
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        • Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Environment
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        • Geography 10: Spaceship Earth
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        • Science 10: Sustainability of Ecosystems
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        • Chemistry 12: Acids and Bases
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        • Environmental Science: Atmospheric Pollution
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        • Chemistry and the Environment
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Environmental Chemistry (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
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      • Science
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        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Environmental Systems
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science):Investigating Properties of Matter
        • Science 14: Investigating Matter and Energy in the Environment
    • Grade 11
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      • Chemistry
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        • Matter as Solutions, Acids and Bases
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 24:Applications of Matter and Chemical Change
    • Grade 12
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      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical Equilibrium Focusing on Acid-Base Systems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 9
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        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Geographic Inquiry and Skill Development
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        • Science (Academic):Biology: Sustainable Ecosystems
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        • Science (Academic):Chemistry: Chemical Reactions
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        • Solutions and Solubility
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        • (College Prep.) Chemistry in the Environment
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        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
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  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 10
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        • Science 421A: Content Knowledge
        • Science 431A: Life Science, Sustainability of Ecosystems
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      • Chemistry
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        • Chemistry 621: Acids and Bases
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        • Environmental Science 621A: Ecological Principles
        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
        • Environmental Science 621A: Introduction to Environmental Science
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    • Grade 9
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        • Applied Science & Technology: The Material World
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        • The Contemporary World: Environment
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        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Material World
        • Science and the Environment: The Material World
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      • Social Studies
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        • Contemporary World: Environment
  • Saskatchewan
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    • Grade 11
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      • Social Studies
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        • Social Studiees 20:World Issues - Environment
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical processes require energy change as atoms are rearranged
        • Energy is conserved and its transformation can affect living things and the environment
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 12: Acid or base strength depends on the degree of ion dissociation
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.
        • Physical Geography 12: Interactions between human activities and the atmosphere affect local and global weather and climate

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (2)

    • Acid Rain
    • Air Pollution
  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Economics (1)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Habitat Loss
  • Energy (1)

    • Energy Generation

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

The group discussion activity in Lesson Three brings the perspective of many stakeholders on this issue. Students listen to facts, reflect on case studies, and analyze first hand data to make their own solutions.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

Students gain an understanding that the underlying social and economic issues beneath an ecological problem hinder the application of many solutions towards solving it.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The resource promotes dialogue and discussion within groups of students to effectively illustrate that there are no easy solutions. The resource encourages open-ended discussion and activities incorporate environmental and social issues.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

No authentic action plan is developed.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

Present day situations are evaluated and the environmental damage to ecosystems due to unsustainable past practices are discussed. Students are asked to play a role in implementing solutions. The future is seen as positive only if students continue to promote and model change.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory

Students are able to discover some answers on their own.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

Although primarily a science resource, (chemistry, environmental science) there are opportunities to address outcomes in geography and social studies.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Direct instruction is used for the presentation of concepts and requirements for lab and activity lessons. Hands-on learning is prominent, and a discussion group model is used for analyzing social and economic issues. There are no accommodations suggested for people with learning difficulties. Alternate lab activities are linked to an EPA web site.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Reflection and discussion questions are provided and suggested answers are given for the introduction and lab exercise. It is up to the teacher develop rubrics for assessment.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory

Case studies are provided, but are not described in great detail. They can be used to examine concepts in an authentic context, but are geared more to an audience in the North Eastern United States.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

Suggestions are provided for students to delve deeper into trout studies in their area.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.