Understanding Water Quality (Science)



The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the basics of water quality, sources of pollutants, and the types of pollutants that can be found in water.

I often find it difficult for students to engage with some environmental issues. I think for many the problem seems far from home, or too big to take on. To address this, students will have the chance to look at the health of their own watershed, and to research a pollutant to gain a better understanding of water quality issues, sources, solutions, and concerns.

The students will do a reading to ensure they have a basic understanding of key vocabulary, and will then explore the EPA's Surf Your Watershed page, will will allow them to access and interpret data specific to their area. The Surf Your Watershed activity ties back in to the hook at the end, asking student to think about why the river accident happened, and whether or not those same attitudes still exist.

Lesson Time

The River's on Fire
5 - 10 Minutes
Understanding Water Quality
30 - 45 Minutes
Surf Your Watershed
2 Class Periods

Industries / Subjects / Grades

Industries / Pathways
  • Energy, Environment, and Utilities Energy, Environment, and Utilities
    • Energy and Power Technology
    • Telecommunications
    • Environmental Resources
Grade Levels
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12

Understanding water Quality


California English Common Core Standards (1)
Next Generation Science Standards (2)

Related Instructional Objectives (SWBAT...)

  • Students will be able to identify possible sources of water impairment and differentiate between point and non-point sources of pollution.
  • Students will be able to describe why it's important to keep pollutants within a certain range.
  • Students will understand why it is difficult to simply eliminate all pollutants, and will determine at least one way to reduce a pollutant.

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