Teacher Area

Lesson Plan 1: Water Contaminants


This lesson/activity will be used to establish knowledge of water contaminants. This content is important because students need to start placing worth on having clean water available and hopefully change their value system and be more conscious of contaminating water needlessly. They will need this insight also to start designing methods of cleaning up what is in the contaminated water.

Freshwater streams, rivers and lakes may look sparkling clean but are probably not safe to drink. Many are polluted with bacteria and viruses caused by sewage and industrial waste. Waste from landfills and mines leak into groundwater reservoirs. Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are washed into the streams by rainwater. These streams flow into rivers and eventually empty into the oceans. This causes much of the coast of continents to be polluted also.

We pollute water when we flush toilets, brush teeth, wash hands and water lawns. Even though this is all legal, we are a major cause of polluted water. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the main culprits found in household soaps, detergents and fertilizers. Both are difficult to remove from sewage and wastewater. They cause a certain algal bloom. When the algae die, they decompose. This process consumes oxygen from the water and fish and other aquatic organisms cannot survive.


  • Provide students with the opportunity to experience working as a research team .
  • Provide insight to various water contaminants found in our water sources.
  • Provide students with the opportunity to practice technical writing.

    Students will be able to:

    • Identify the two classifications of water pollution. (Recall)
    • Identify the six types of pollution that reduce water quality. (Recall)
    • Identify sources of water pollution.
    • Identify/explain the origin & causes of microbial contaminants.
    • Define herbicide, pesticide and organic chemical contaminant. (Comprehension)
    • Discuss how radioactive contaminants occur. (Application)
    • Identify/define/describe industrial, agricultural and household contaminants found in water.
    • Identify/define/describe diseases related to water contamination. (Recall, Comprehension, Application)
    • Post to a blog or create a PowerPoint Slide of information with imagery.
    • Answer the quiz questions with 100% accuracy.
    • Answer prompts for systems engineering
    • Work on a research team. (Analysis, Evaluation, Synthesis) (Affective Domain)
    • Package a body of information as a Public Service Announcement to include information related to the objectives of this activity. (Application, Synthesis) (Affective Domain)
Materials and Resources


New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

  • Standard 5.4: Nature and Process of Technology
  • Standard 5.5: Characteristics of Life
  • Standard 5.6: Chemistry
  • Standard 5.10: Environmental Studies
  • Standard 8.2: Technological Literacy

National Science Content Standards

  • Unifying Concepts and Processes in Science
  • Science as Inquiry
  • Life Science
  • Science and Technology
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives


Students will be put into a role-playing situation to learn knowledge related to various water contaminants. Students will divide the work according to the designated roles work to be the first team to post information about a particular water contaminant to a designated class or school blog. The entries will be scored using a rubric and the highest scored entry will get the points for their team. A second activity will take place after the blogs are done. This activity puts the students into smaller teams to develop a public service announcement. Again, students will each have a role with specific tasks to complete to help the team get the work done.

This activity will provide the students with an opportunity to work as a research team and determine water contaminant information. Details for the blog and Public Service Announcement are as follows:

  1. Students will research and prepare posts on various water contaminants to a blog in a race against other class teams. The entries will be scored and points will go to the best scoring entry for each topic. The blog provides a format for students to document their research in a technology savvy way. Some of the students will like this method and already be familiar with blogs. Those students will like teaching the others how to use and post to the blog. If the blog is not appropriate, the posts could be done as PowerPoint slides. Each class will post a link to their blog in Collaboration Central.

  2. Students will record a public service announcement for radio to alert the public of the local contaminants that might be in the water. Each school should share their public service announcements via Pod Cast or other mp3 medium. This activity allows the students to synthesize the information and place value on it for other people. The mp3 file will allow the students to learn another technology savvy method of documenting information. Some of the students will be good at this and like teaching the other students. Each class will post a copy of one class-selected announcement to share with other project participants in Collaboration Central.
  • The pre test can be used prior to lessons and activities.
  • The rubric can be used to access student participation during the activity.
  • The instructions can be used to explain the activity. These can be read to the class.
  • The blog posts can be used to guide the teams for their research and documentation. These guidelines could be posted in class or on a separate blog or file storage location for future reference. A printed copy could be given to each team.
  • The blog rubric can be used each time the students posted an entry.
  • The post test can be used to assess students and obtain feedback.
  • The PSA instructions can be used to explain the activity.
  • The PSA rubric can be used to access the final product.
  • The Overview video by Global Health an Education Foundation can be used prior to the PSA activity as a summary.

Time Frame: Blog entries - 3 days, PSA - 5 days

  • Deliver pre test
  • Share instructions for activity
  • Share participation rubric with students
  • Use blog entries to run activity
  • Use blog rubric to assess blog entries. Will need one per entry for each team.
  • Use PSA instructions for activity (these instructions can be delivered via mp3 that is the same format you expect the PSA to be done in. This will give the students a chance to experience an mp3 if they have not.
    Use scenario below for students having trouble with the activity expectations.)
    • What new contaminants could be in the water? (medicinal)
    • What type of treatment does the water need?
    • Is more research needed for new methods?
    • What are the repercussions of these new contaminants?
    • What should the public know?
  • Use PSA rubric to assess product
  • Deliver post test

Show video as an overview for water related issues


Important Content: See Water Contaminants Blog Posts

Support sources:

  • School Media Center or Library
  • Internet
  • Blog host

For the Science Savvy Teacher:

  • Demonstrate how water is cycled through the atmosphere naturally.
  • Use The Water Cycle
  • Demonstrate how water gets contaminated.
  • Use Who Dirtied the Water/Clean Water to demonstrate how so many contribute to the pollution found in the water.

For the Statistical Savvy Teacher:

  • Raise the level of awareness by demonstrating how many are affected.
  • Show the world map and discuss the way water eventually ends up in the oceans.
  • Use Teach Engineering Activity: Can You Catch the Water? To demonstrate how run off actually works.

For the Technology Savvy Teacher:

Use the written set of directions to read to the class or create an MP3 file of verbal instructions to post as a Pod Cast so students can get the mysterious message and start their role-play. The directions can be set up like a mission directive to give the students the sense of being selected for the special mission due to their skills and abilities. The mission directive sends them to another form of information to set up their team.