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Groundwater contamination can have devastating consequences on environmental and human health. Non-point source pollutants are difficult to track but point source pollution can often be readily traced to the cause. In this lesson, students become environmental detectives who must work together to identify how a pollution incident occurred in a fictional town. As the class moves through a series of clues to solve this mystery they will:
Identify types of human activities that might be causing groundwater contamination with fuel.
Hypothesize how pollutants flow through groundwater based on topography.
Describe negative impacts of groundwater pollution on sensitive ecosystems like wetlands.
Consider the cultural and social impacts of groundwater contamination on First Nations communities.
Makes strong connections with First Nations culture
Encourages a conservation approach where students are able to define strategies to protect groundwater
Does not have an experiential component with a hands-on activity to support the learning.
This lesson plan supports science curriculum outcomes related to freshwater systems, ecosystems, habitats and sustainable living. Students also strengthen critical thinking and problem solving skills while they analyze information and explain their theories about how the contamination occurred. As students reflect about impacts on the community they will also consider how individual actions can impact the environment, which will encourage citizenship decisions about protecting groundwater in their own community.
An interesting action project arising from this lesson could have a class working with local environmental organizations to host a community hazardous waste disposal day. While homeowners drop off their hazardous waste students could be disseminating information about the importance of conserving groundwater and strategies for preventing contamination at home.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Good|
Students are able to examine evidence and consider research information to formulate opinions and draw conclusions.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Good|
The environmental consequences of groundwater pollution are linked to indigenous social impacts so that students gain a deep awareness of the spiritual connections between First Nations people and water that sustains life.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
What seems like a small fuel spill is connected to habitat loss and human health. Thus, students will recognize that short-term, localized pollution can have extensive long term consequences.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Satisfactory|
No specific projects are included in this resource but the content does support action opportunities such as personal water conservation goals, peer education about water pollution or community based projects to clean up a local waterway.
|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
This investigation supports individual goals for reducing energy consumption and encourages a stewardship ethic.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Good|
The dire consequences of being unable to access clean drinking water has been an enduring struggle for many Canadian First Nations communities. This resource highlights the social consequences of this issue and develops empathy towards indigenous communities.
|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||Satisfactory|
Although this lesson does not include an outdoor experience the content can easily be translated into an outside class where students engage in a pollution evaluation of a local green space to build connections to a natural environment.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
|Locally-Focused Learning||Poor/Not considered|
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Poor/Not considered|
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
A set of guided questions leads students through the investigation, but there are many opportunities for pupils to individually and collaboratively problem solve and extend the learning to considering pollution impacts in their own community.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
This activity has been developed as a science lesson that requires extensive use of English Language Arts outcomes such as summarizing, communicating opinions and critical reading. Map reading and learning about contour lines supports geography concepts.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
A worksheet provides a framework for the investigation by using a set of questions to guide the process. Students are able to formulate their own ideas based on research and evidence.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
This is a classroom lesson that focuses on reading, writing and analysis of information. However, the group approach does allow for verbal expression and the map enables students to visualize information that might be difficult to access through reading.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
A teacher could expand the in-class content of this lesson with a class visit to a local stream or river so students are able to observe flow patterns and gain a deeper understanding of potential pollution impacts.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
|Cooperative Learning||Poor/Not considered|
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Satisfactory|
The student worksheet could be used as a formative assessment to determine the level of student understanding of key concepts.
|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.|
Students actively participate in group discussions in which they can express ideas.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
The town examined in the activity is fictional but is related to information about Canadian First Nations concerns about pipelines which strengthens the lesson authenticity.
|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||Poor/Not considered|
|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.|