SCoPE Site Lesson Plan - DOC 8

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					Middle School Science                                                       Problems from Pollution
Biological Organization; Particles and Waves; Examining Water and Weather

                                SCoPE Site Lesson Plan
Title: Lesson 1—Who Killed the Lake? (SC060601)

Students model the pollution of a lake over time, and learn shared responsibility in the spirit of
Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons.”

Subject Area: Science

Grade Level and Course Title: Sixth Grade/Biological Organization; Particles and Waves;
Examining Water and Weather

Unit of Study: Problems from Pollution

    Describe the origins of pollution in the hydrosphere and atmosphere (V.2.MS.4, V.3.MS.2).
    Describe limitations in personal knowledge about sources and effects of pollution
    Develop an awareness of and sensitivity to the natural world (II.1.MS.5).

Key Concepts
acid rain
agricultural run-off
industrial waste
sources of pollution

Instructional Resources
Canisters (film or pill bottles, 1 per student)
Materials in canisters;
   Baking soda (~1/4 canister) (Mark canister “Governments/Road chemicals”)
   Bits of broken toothpicks (~canister) (Mark canister “Settlers/waste lumber”)
   Bits of paper punches (~ canister) (Mark canister “Tourists/Trash”)
   Cooking oil (1 tbsp) (Mark canister “Mechanics/Motor Oil”)
   Egg white (~1/2 canister) (Mark canister “Ojibwa/Waste”)
   Green food coloring (~1/3 canister) (Mark canister “Modern Farmers/Fertilizers”)
   Leaves (cut up, canister full) (Mark canister “Homeowners/gutters draining into sewers”)
   Molasses (~4/5 canister) (Mark canister “City dwellers/sewage waste”)
   Potter’s or Mineral Blue Clay (~5 grams) (Mark canister “First Farmers/Silt”)
   Potting soil (full canisters) (Mark canister “Drivers/ air pollution soot”)
   Shampoo (red/full canister) (Mark canister “Boaters/Waste from boats”)
   Vinegar colored with a bit of blue food coloring (~1/3 canister) (Mark canister “Factory/
          Waste products)
Small toddler’s wading pool or baby bathtub full of water

July 8, 2004                                                           SCoPE SC060601 Page 1 of 4
Middle School Science                                                       Problems from Pollution
Biological Organization; Particles and Waves; Examining Water and Weather

Student Resource
American Geological Institute. In Investigating Earth Systems: Investigating Water as a
   Resource. Armonk, NY: It’s About Time Publishing, 2001.

EPA’s Environmental Education Center. 27 June 2000. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  4 June 2001 <>.

Mitchell, Mark K., et al. Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring: An Environmental
   Education Program for Schools. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2000.

Texley, Juliana. Unit 6 Lesson 1 Student Pages. Teacher-made material. Lansing, MI: Michigan
   Department of Treasury, 2004.

Teacher Resource
Population              Awareness.                12                 May               2004

Texley, Juliana. Grade 6 Unit 6 Teacher Background. Teacher-made material. Lansing, MI:
   Michigan Department of Treasury, 2004.

Sequence of Activities
Advance Preparation: The best containers for this activity are film canisters because they are
opaque. Despite the predominance of digital cameras you can still get them in bulk from
film/camera stores. Alternatively, pill bottles can be obtained from a druggist. Prepare as many
canisters as you have students, doubling up the materials in the materials list above to increase
the participation.

Safety Precautions: The small amount of soda added for the last step is meant to create a few
bubbles in the water. Make sure students are not close to the “lake” at that point, or wear eye
protection. You can substitute broken bits of “Alka Seltzer®” but you must make sure that his
drug, like all drugs, remains secure.

1. Tell students that you are going to tell a story about a lake. Show them the “lake” you have
   prepared. Give each child a canister that has been labeled. Tell them not to open it at their
   seats, but that when they hear about their own role in the story, they should come up to the
   front and put the contents of their canisters into the “lake.” (This activity is adapted from one
   suggested on the website.)

July 8, 2004                                                           SCoPE SC060601 Page 2 of 4
Middle School Science                                                       Problems from Pollution
Biological Organization; Particles and Waves; Examining Water and Weather

2. Read the story:

                             Who Killed the Lake? A Mystery Story

             Since the last glacier, the lake had been there, shining in the morning sun. Loons
    and gulls sang to it, fish played in its shallows. Each evening in the moonlight raccoons
    would wash their suppers as deer slipped onto the shore for a long, cool drink.
             The Ojibwa knew the lake. They called it Otsikita, and shared its treasures with
    the animals there. Sometimes they were careless and dumped their fish parts or trash in
    the lake, but there were so few of them that the lake adapted. The plants around the edges
    of the lake were able to filter the pollution, and the animals still had clean water.
             In the 18th Century settlers came to share the lake with the Ojibwa. They were
    mostly French people, who earned their living by trapping furred animals and logging.
    There were so many trees that they thought they would never grow thin. The English
    came too, and built fences to farm. These first farmers cleared as much land as they
    could. They had big steel plows, and in the spring the land they plowed eroded into the
    lake. The soil was rich, so they needed little fertilizer. But the silt clouded the water and
    kept the sun from the lake’s plants.
             But as time went on, the rich soil grew thin. Modern farmers had to buy nitrogen
    and phosphate fertilizers to grow their crops densely on their fields. In the spring, the
    fertilizers washed into the lake, and made the algae bloom. The lake turned green. But by
    summer there was no fertilizer left, and much of the algae died. The lake smelled bad!
             Not everyone who came to the lake was a farmer. City dwellers had to channel
    their sewage through septic or sewer systems. Homeowners built homes very close
    together, and channeled the water from their yards into the same sewer system. Usually
    the sewage got filtered before it reached the lake, but when it rained hard the water from
    the homeowner’s yards would overflow the treatment plants, and sewage would go right
    into the lake. The government built roads because there were more and more drivers.
    Since people wanted to drive in the winter, they put salt and other chemicals on the roads,
    and when the snow melted, these chemicals washed into the lake. The mechanics that
    kept the cars going were sometimes careless too, and dumped oil onto the ground or into
    ditches. Then it slipped into the lake.
             The people worked in factories; many of these plants released chemicals into the
    lake, too. Sometimes it was an accident, but other times it was just a way to make more
             But people still loved their lake. On the weekends, tourists would come to the
    lake to watch the animals. They would camp alongside, bringing bags and boxes of treats
    to share. Boaters would stay for long periods on the lake; many of them had tiny
    bathrooms right on their boats, but the bathrooms emptied into the lake. Big ships dumped
    wastes too.
             Sometimes the Ojibwa children would return to the lake that their grandparents
    loved. When they did, they would ask: “Who killed the lake?”

July 8, 2004                                                           SCoPE SC060601 Page 3 of 4
Middle School Science                                                       Problems from Pollution
Biological Organization; Particles and Waves; Examining Water and Weather

3. Ask students to describe their “lake.” Then ask them to respond in writing to the story, “Who
   killed the lake?” [Everyone did!]

Students should be able to respond in a coherent paragraph, explaining that the responsibility for
conservation belongs to everyone.

Applications Outside of School
Very simple actions (like separating storm drains from sanitary drains, or recycling trash, can do
a great deal of good in the long run.

Social Studies
While studying about water quality and pollution, students can review Michigan history.

July 8, 2004                                                           SCoPE SC060601 Page 4 of 4

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