Water rich in nutrients from fertilisers, soil erosion, deterents etc create ideal conditions for algal blooms.
6. Break students up into groups of 4-6, giving each one parameter to test. Suggest that groups with meters all take a reading and average their results. Offer assistance with instructions and methodology through-out.
7. Have students record their results on the Field Data Sheets provided.
8. When all students have recorded their results, invite the entire group to draw conclusions about the water quality.
9. Based on the Physical and Chemical Parameter Cards, ask the students to hypothesise on the causes of any water quality concerns they’ve identified.
10. Get the students to explain what of their own behaviour may be having a deleterious impact on the waterway.
11. Ask students to hypothesise about what they, or other members of the community, can do to improve water quality. Look for answers such as:
Livestock exclusion from the waterway or river bank
Controlling non-point (generalised) and point source pollution
Education of the community to reduce stormwater pollution.
Have students make a cartoon or a bumper sticker encouraging members of the community to take better care of water quality. They might like to use some of the river cartoon characters used throughout this education package.
In-class room adaptation
Provide the class with 3-4 one litre (but unlabelled) samples of water from various sources. Depending on your location, try to get samples from sources such as the school bubbler (or similar), from a nearby river, stream, wetland or a dam, or from a parkland or stormwater drain. For the final sample contaminate drinking water with either a 1/4 cup lemon juice or a 1/4 cup table salt.
After testing and sharing the results, ask students to form an opinion on which samples came from which sources.
Return to the lesson plan at step 9. For each sample get the students to suggest what the contaminant or contaminants may be.
Continue with Lesson Plan steps 10 and 11.
Include in the monitoring:
Phosphate testing and
Dissolved Oxygen testing.
Work with students to complete the Field Data Sheets. Secondary students may be trained as Waterwatch volunteers and monitor a site as a class or take it on as an individual or group project over the course of the term.
Have students bring in one litre samples from their local waterway for testing.
Compare and contrast results, and encourage students to hypothesise about disparities in water quality from different locations.
Encourage students to investigate their hypotheses further with independent research.
Soil erosion associated with construction works can be a serious problem for waterways if not constrained like this. Photograph: Bill Phillips
In urban areas a common site is litter, oils, detergents and a cocktail of other pollutants washing into our creeks, lakes and rivers via stormwater channels. Photograph: Bill Phillip