Digital Resource Package for Teaching Water Quality

Following are a sample of 25 exemplar NSDL links specific to teaching water quality at the K-12 level.

Field Trips and Labs

  1. Water Quality Testing in your Local Water Cycle Students analyze local water chemistry by identifying and collecting local water samples, deciding upon questions they want to answer about their local water sources, and then performing simple water quality tests on their samples.
  2. Water Quality This is a field investigation in which students test water quality in 2-3 areas using their own testable question.
  3. Water Quality Acquisition Students practice their field water sample collection and water quality assessment skills (chemical indicators) and study acid mine drainage.
  4. Water Quality Monitoring This activity is designed to study the water quality of a stream in your area, by measuring the temperature, pH, alkalinity, conductivity and total dissolved solids. It lends itself to integrating biology with earth science when using the microscope to study the living organisms in the water.
  5. Macroinvertebrates and Indicators of Water Quality This activity is a field investigation where students can go to a body of water and collect the macroinvertebrates there and identify them. Based on what they find, they can assess the water quality by determining the biotic index.
  6. Monitoring Water Quality: A Field Experiment This lesson combines classroom work with a field trip to give middle school students hands-on experience in determining water quality.
  7. The Effects of Water Quality on the Growth Rate of Freshwater Mussels, Margaritifera falcata Students will participate in a field and laboratory study to determine if local freshwater mussels are environmentally stressed. Students will test the water quality of local streams/rivers using proper field techniques to determine the effects of water pollutants on the growth rate of freshwater mussels, Margaritifera falcate.
  8. TOPS Water Quality Analysis Lab This introductory lab gives students a chance to study water samples and the changes in water quality caused by biological demands.
  9. Water Quality Students use a microcomputer connected to a conductivity probe to measure the total dissolved solids in local area water samples.
  10. Simulations and Media

  11. Water Quality In this online interactive, learners explore the various types of life that live in fresh water systems and how the presence of these organisms is a biological indication of the overall health of the water. Learners perform a water quality test that simulates tests performed in the field and use the data to determine the Cumulative Index Value.
  12. The Watershed Game Interactive game that features two skill levels (novice and intermediate) that teach about water quality, watersheds, and management of this important resource. The intermediate level game is broken into four sections: National Parks, agriculture, neighborhood, and city, each with five questions. At the end of the quiz, the best choices for each question are explained.
  13. Laura Triplett This appealing video shows Laura Triplett, an environmental geologist who studies how people affect the water quality by studying layers of mud in the lake's basin. It also addresses some points related to the nature of science.
  14. Case Studies

  15. Water Quality This interactive case study presents a simulated situation where a client, who owns a catch and release fishing guide service, is upset over the fact that the fish in a stretch of "Bear Creek" have been dying. The client has called on the student's firm to figure out what is killing the fish and how to stop it. Preliminary fieldwork has been done and is available for the student's analysis. The biological, chemical, and physical data for this watershed are realistic values based on data found in similar situations. Guided lectures on the hydrosphere, water pollution, and water quality assessment (biological, chemical and physical) are provided, as well as a link to another module on a real watershed. For additional aides, a site glossary, reference information, a listing of related links, and a model outline of the steps to follow for the Problem Based Learning (PBL) situation are given.
  16. Exploring the Environment: Water Quality This site presents two case studies regarding the Wheeling Creek area of West Virginia. The scenario asks students to research problems and come up with answers to a fictitious local water board's concerns over water quality in the watershed. The site provides students with extensive, yet easy to understand background information on the following topics: Importance of Water, Water Cycle, Hydrosphere, Forms of Pollution, and Methods for Monitoring. Graphs, charts, maps, and photos of the creek give students detailed information to help them in their investigations.
  17. Lesson Plans

  18. Water What-ifs: Lessons The following water quality parameters will be addressed at this site: pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, nitrates/phosphates, and macroinvertebrate surveys. Three lessons are provided for each parameter to help teachers create a water quality unit to be used in conjunction with the water quality testing program.
  19. Teacher's Domain: Human Impact on Water Quality In this lesson, students explore how human activity has impacted the quality of our water resources and consider ways to avoid further pollution. Using video and hands-on activities, they will first examine the causes of water pollution, then investigate the quality of their community's water supply.
  20. Water's the Matter: Measuring Water Quality This module will focus on five different measurable properties of water.
  21. NCSR: Impact of Land Use on Water Quality This module provides information on conducting a multiple session classroom, laboratory, and field-based experience to determining the impact of non-point sources of pollution on watersheds. The module is comprised of the following instructional sessions:(1) A preparatory activity in which students use remote sensing and Internet sources to understanding of the watershed; (2) A field experience in which students evaluate the impact of land use on water quality through direct observation and measurement; (3) An analysis laboratory in which students measure additional water quality parameters and evaluate the relationship between land use and water quality.
  22. Monitoring Estuarine Water Quality - Data in the Classroom This curriculum guide contains activities designed for grades 6-8 and is organized as a pathway with five lessons at increasing levels of sophistication. They incorporate real data from NOAA to help students understand how water quality parameters are monitored and how these factors affect biological systems.. Each level includes a pretest to check understanding followed by an activity to make graphs, use real data, and collect real water quality data. Included are a teacher's guide, data sets and evaluation survey.
  23. Reference Material

  24. Important Water Quality Factors This site provides basic information about chemical indicators commonly analyzed in water quality studies of drinking water, waste water and natural water. The factors are listed alphabetically with descriptions and explanations about what the results of measurements mean in environmental terms.
  25. Monitoring Water Quality This website consolidates information, programs, mapping tools, policies, and databases of the Environmental Protection Agency which pertain to and regulate water quality. The site includes volunteer and technical guidance on the different ways to monitor water quality, such as physical, biological and chemical indicators. Students can find the profile for their local watershed.
  26. A Primer On Water Quality This USGS Fact sheet provides an overview of water quality considerations. Each brief section contains definitions and descriptions. The topics include how to measure water quality, why there are standards and guidelines, the effect of natural processes, the effect of human activities, pathogens found in water, and links to sites in USGS with additional information.
  27. Indicators of Coastal Water Quality Nutrients in run-off from land-based sources are altering coastal water quality globally. The Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center compiled global data on the concentration of chlorophyll in coastal waters to determine the biomass of algal blooms, which in turn indicates coastal water quality. Students can gain an appreciation of how agriculture and other human activities are affecting the environment and could potentially be suitable for teachers of environmental management classes.
  28. Hurricane Isabel Water Quality Impacts Hurricane Isabel swept through the east coast of the United States on September 18 and 19 of 2003. This site, created by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, discusses how this strong hurricane with winds in some areas up to 60 miles per hour affected the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays region.
  29. USGS: National Water Quality Assessment Data Warehouse This comprehensive and well-organized site from the USGS offers visitors all sorts of information on water quality studies from all over the United States. By clicking on a map of the US, users are taken to a list of study areas, with over fifty to pick from.]