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Lesson Plan #:AELP-ENV0065


Water Pollution

An Educator's Reference Desk Lesson Plan


Author: David A. Gillam, Susitna Elementary, Anchorage, AK

Date: May 1994

Grade Level(s): Kindergarten, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


    • Science/Environmental Education


There are a wide variety of pollutants that can affect water and the plants and animals that live in the water. This pollution can be divided into three groups: chemical pollution, thermal pollution, and ecological pollution. Since not all pollution is human produced students need to understand that there are sometimes "natural" reasons for some pollution.


These activities will help students' understanding of water pollution and its potential effects on human and wildlife habitats.

OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to:

    • Identify 2 or more pollutants in a bog, marsh, stream or other wetland area.
    • Relate a pollution prevention message through words and art.
    • Understand that some pollutants can not be seen.


    • Taking student a wetland area helps them become more aware of the water around them. Take with you paper, pencils, clipboards, rubber gloves, plastic garbage bags and extra adults. When you get to your wetland site divide students into groups of 3 or 4. Each group is to look around the wetland area and find as many sources/types of pollution as possible. On their paper a designated recorder for each group will record the different types of pollution found. After 5-7 minutes, come together as a whole group and discuss the pollution that is seen. Since the visible pollution is often in the form of litter, discuss with your students the pollution that may be present, but not seen. When the group discussion is over, pass out gloves and bags. Divide students into groups and assign an adult to each group. Then have the students pick up the litter pollution and take back to school and put in dumpsters. Repeat throughout the year.


    • For this activity you will need paper, crayons, markers, crayon pastels and other art supplies. Review with the students the types of pollution that they know about. Talk about the ways people can help prevent certain kinds of water pollution. List them on the chalk board. Have students draw a picture showing how to prevent pollution of a wetland of other water source. Encourage students to think about the source of the pollution and ways to either prevent or ways to dispose of some pollutants.


    • To help students understand that clear water isn't necessarily free of pollutants, place 5 clear liquids in portion cups. Things to include should have a definite taste that students would recognize. Use sugar water, white vinegar, salt water, water mixed with citric acid, and tap water. Using cotton swabs, have students taste each liquid (dispose of swab after each taste) and record what they taste after each. After students have all had a chance to taste, discuss that some kinds of pollution can't be seen. If you have local creeks, streams, or other water ways that are unsafe for human use, this is a good jumping off point to discuss the problems these bodies of water have.



All resources are available in most areas.


Environment concerns can be understood by even the youngest school children. Providing them with a background of information and an opportunity to actively use that information, they will begin to develop a feeling of stewardship for their world. Using activities that develop environmental stewardship in students will hopefully become a basis for action in their future lives.


May 1994

These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have attended the Columbia Education Center's Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium of teacher from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops.


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