The water cycle and water quality

Sarah Kipker’s 7th grade science class at Jackson Center School started with spheres of the Earth and finished with a focus on water quality.

After introducing the different spheres and how they interact, Kipker and her students discussed how water molecules travel through the water cycle. The students made a poster modeling their travels, labelling the movement process and describing how those processes interacted through the Earth’s different spheres. Next, they discussed what a watershed is. Using a map of Ohio, they looked at the ones closest to their area.

After these activities, Kipker’s class focused on the Water quality unit from Feed the World. “We first studied the abiotic components by doing chemical tests to determine water quality. My students tested three different bodies of water: the pond in our school courtyard, Indian Lake, and my family pond. The students discovered that the pH level in our school pond in the courtyard was a 10 and very high on the pH scale. They also discovered that the DO in our water was very low. We have tried to have fish in that pond but have had no luck the past year. Based on this data, we are working with our maintenance crew and doing a few things to the water—we hope to add some fish in the pond this spring,” Kipker said.

“The students also discovered that Indian Lake and my own pond are very healthy. They were very interested in testing the water of Indian Lake because many of them go to the beach, fish, or boat there. Since there is a problem with seaweed this summer, I think they were expecting different results.”

Next, the class studied macroinvertebrates and how they relate to water quality. Each of the students was given a macroinvertebrate card from the “Can you ID?” set. Students researched their organism and then shared their research with their classmates.

Finally, each group was assigned a stream to perform Biotic Water Sampling. Using their knowledge of macroinvertebrates from the cards, they collected all their specimens from their stream. Each stream had a combination of various macroinvertebrates. They had to use their list and identify each one, then calculate if they had a healthy or an unhealthy stream based on the biotic factors they found. “The students really enjoyed doing this activity and I think it gave them a better understanding of how we can use living things to determine water quality,” Kipker said.

“The highlight of the workshop was the variety of activities that we experienced. I teach in the middle school grades but many of these lessons can be adapted for lower grades,” Kipker said. “I also liked being able to actually do some of the labs while we were at the workshop because that gave me a better understanding of how I can use it in my classroom. The materials we received were a huge help. I used the water quality kit, the macroinvertebrate cards, and the soil testing kit for a lesson with my 6th graders. Also, getting feedback from other teachers and hearing how they will use the different materials was very helpful because I can use their ideas to guide my lessons. I really enjoyed the workshop and found the materials and discussions beneficial.”

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