MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Safe Water Unit

Safe Water Unit

Brenda Dukek
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Learning Goals

a.) Students will be able to explain which site caused the lead pollution based on the information that they have been given.
b.) Students will build a ground water model in order to show a deeper understanding of the concept.
c.) Students will learn where water is stored underground.
d.) Students will learn the role of water in the hydrologic cycle.
e.) Students will learn what the water table is and the difference between saturated and unsaturated zones.
f.) Students will learn about porosity and permeability of rock.
g.) Students will learn about recharge and discharge of ground water.
h.) Students will learn about aquifers.
i.) Students will learn the basics of groundwater flow rate and direction.
j.) Students will learn how pollution can affect an aquifer.
k.) Students will learn how to set up experiments to model a groundwater system, measure the porosity and permeability of sand and gravel, and model the flow of pollution through a groundwater system.

Context for Use

Be familiar with the "Science Seekers" Teacher's Guide and CD ROM unit. This is an inquiry based science unit where students will gather information in order to solve a real world problem. The unit contains information gathering segments in small groups, labs for each investigation, and whole group video on the computer. All of the materials (except the lab materials) are available for copying from the Teacher's Guide.

Subject: Geoscience:Hydrology:Ground Water, Environmental Science:Water Quality and Quantity
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science, Hydrology/Hydrogeology, Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Water

Description and Teaching Materials

a.) Engage: Students will view the CD-ROM Mission video.
b.) Students will collect information in Investigation 1. They will be placed in groups of 4 students. After sharing information students will work in their groups to answer questions to Investigation 1.
c.) Students will be brought back to a whole group to use the CD-ROM computer review of the information they have received so far. They will also getting a briefing (another computer video) from a geologist.
d.) Students will complete the Investigation 1 Science Lab.
e.) Students will be placed back into their previous groups of 4. They will now work to collect information in Investigation 2. After sharing information students will work in groups to answer question to Investigation 2.
f.) Students will be brought back to whole group to use the CD-ROM computer review of Investigation 2. They will also get a debriefing from a Hydro geologist who will give them even more information.
g.) Students will follow the Science Lab for Investigation 2 and record their results.
h.) Students will be placed back into their groups of 4 to collect information for Investigation 3. Once students have shared and discussed the information, they will work together to answer questions that go along with Investigation 3.
i.) Students will go back to a final whole group review of investigation 3 before beginning their final Science Lab.
j.) Students will follow the Science Lab for Investigation 3 and record their results.
k.) Students will meet to discuss which site has caused the water contamination. They have to be prepared to share with the whole group the evidence that leads to their conclusions.
l.) Students will write their predictions with supporting evidence for their predictions.
m.) Students will come back to the whole group and using the CD-ROM they will unlock the secrets of who contaminated the ground water.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Students could visit local water purification plants. Students could map out the groundwater systems in their local areas. Students could meet with people in soil and water conservation offices.

Internet Connections:
a. The Hydrologic Cycle Visit NASA's Observatorium site to learn about the hydrologic cycle through text and simple animations.
b. Water Science for Schools: Groundwater The United States Geological Survey's Water Science for schools site is a great place students and teachers can visit to find out more about groundwater, including statistics on groundwater use nationwide and a map of groundwater use by state.


I will use the Investigation Reports 1,2, and 3 along with Science Lab Reports 1, 2 and 3 to see that students are understanding the information they are getting. I will also be able to see an understanding in their written prediction based on the supporting evidence that they list. (Did students choose the correct site? Did they use the information they gathered throughout their investigations to come to the correct conclusion?)


Grade 5 and Grade 6 Scientific Inquiry
1.) Students will perform a controlled experiment using a specific step-by-step procedure and present conclusions supported by the evidence.
2.) Students will observe that when a science investigation or experiment is repeated, a similar result is expected.
3.) Students will use appropriate tools and units for measuring length, time, mass, volume, and temperature with suitable precision and accuracy.
4.) Students will present and explain data and findings from controlled experiments using multiple representations including tables, graphs, physical models and demonstrations.

References and Resources

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