Responding to a report of contamination
of their town’s water supply, students explore
and then explain water and wastewater treatment systems
to their peers, including the analytical and regulatory
issues associated with the use and management of water
resources. The students present the information on
various aspects of the contamination to a town meeting
as specialist groups competing for a consulting contract.
The teacher acts as the mayor presiding over the meeting.
1. Identify and describe the parameters and analytical
techniques used to characterize water contamination
in a class presentation.
2. Identify the consequences of high contamination
levels in the water supply during a class presentation.
3. Describe the laws that govern the quality of the
water they use and explain in a class presentation
how water quality standards are enforced.
4. Differentiate in a class presentation between drinking
water and wastewater treatment systems and also surface
and ground water supplies.
Science Education Standards
Standard A: Science as Inquiry
COMMUNICATE AND DEFEND A SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENT.
Students in school science programs should develop
the abilities associated with accurate and effective
communication. These include writing and following
procedures, expressing concepts, reviewing information,
summarizing data, using language appropriately, developing
diagrams and charts, explaining statistical analysis,
speaking clearly and logically, constructing a reasoned
argument, and responding appropriately to critical
RECOGNIZE AND ANALYZE ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS AND
MODELS. This aspect of the standard emphasizes the
critical abilities of analyzing an argument by reviewing
current scientific understanding, weighing the evidence,
and examining the logic so as to decide which explanations
and models are best. In other words, although there
may be several plausible explanations, they do not
all have equal weight. Students should be able to use
scientific criteria to find the preferred explanations.
Area E: Science and Technology
IDENTIFY A PROBLEM OR DESIGN AN OPPORTUNITY. Students
should be able to identify new problems or needs and
to change and improve current technological designs.
Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social
Human populations use resources in the environment
in order to maintain and improve their existence. Natural
resources have been and will continue to be used to maintain
The earth does not have infinite resources; increasing
human consumption places severe stress on the natural
processes that renew some resources, and it depletes
those resources that cannot be renewed.
Humans use many natural systems as resources. Natural
systems have the capacity to reuse waste, but that capacity
is limited. Natural systems can change to an extent that
exceeds the limits of organisms to adapt naturally or
humans to adapt technologically.
Natural ecosystems provide an array of basic processes
that affect humans. Those processes include maintenance
of the quality of the atmosphere, generation of soils,
control of the hydrologic cycle, disposal of wastes,
and recycling of nutrients. Humans are changing many
of these basic processes, and the changes may be detrimental
to humans. [See Content Standard C (grades 9-12) ]
Materials from human societies affect both physical and
chemical cycles of the earth.
Many factors influence environmental quality. Factors
that students might investigate include population growth,
resource use, population distribution, overconsumption,
the capacity of technology to solve problems, poverty,
the role of economic, political, and religious views,
and different ways humans view the earth.
NATURAL AND HUMAN-INDUCED HAZARDS
Normal adjustments of earth may be hazardous for humans.
Humans live at the interface between the atmosphere driven
by solar energy and the upper mantle where convection
creates changes in the earth's solid crust. As societies
have grown, become stable, and come to value aspects
of the environment, vulnerability to natural processes
of change has increased. [See Content Standard D (grades
Human activities can enhance potential for hazards. Acquisition
of resources, urban growth, and waste disposal can accelerate
rates of natural change.
Natural and human-induced hazards present the need for
humans to assess potential danger and risk. Many changes
in the environment designed by humans bring benefits
to society, as well as cause risks. Students should understand
the costs and trade-offs of various hazards--ranging
from those with minor risk to a few people to major catastrophes
with major risk to many people. The scale of events and
the accuracy with which scientists and engineers can
(and cannot) predict events are important considerations.
and Resource Websites
Primary Treatment of Wastewater http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/wwvisit.html
EPA Decision Making - A Mock Town Meeting http://www.epa.gov/OGWDW/kids/grades_9-12_mock_town_meeting.html