2017 - Bothwell

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Clean water: creation and access

Mr. Thoms and Mrs. Tapolcai


Overall, we want our students to create inquiry questions before we start this project, and as we get into it more questions will come up. We want to address these, but have anticipated what they might inquire with some questions of our own below. We would like students to learn about their local water quality, but also culminate all of this in a project on environmental justice concerning water scarcity worldwide. We will lead into this with Linda Sue Park's novel A Long Walk to Water about a young man and young woman's journey to find safe, clean water for their tribes in South Sudan.

Project Description

Who: You, the students, will read the novel A Long Walk to Water in Mrs. Tapolcai and Mr. Thoms' classrooms (Science and Language Arts).

What: The students will read the novel and accompanied informational texts on clean water, wells, and the conflict in Sudan from Newsela and other sources. The focus will be on the guided inquiry questions below.

Where: In our classrooms at Bothwell, the pond in the woods south of BMS, Whetstone Brook, Orianna Creek, ditches near BMS, Lake Superior, and water samples taken from local inland ponds and lakes within Marquette County.

When: Beginning Sept 18 with the novel, ending sometime around the end of the first quarter/mid-November.

Why: Students will complete this project to give them a better understanding of the quality of our local water resources, to describe and define the bacteria present in water and the dangers (or lack thereof) that are present in the water, learn about how wells are created and how they work, and studying who does and does not have access to water and how this global problem can be solved.

How: Students in our classrooms will use gathered experimental data, their book, informational texts, science notebooks, and online resources to demonstrate their learning and create a project focused and centered on the guided inquiry questions.

Inquiry Questions (for Students)

  • Why can't we just dip a cup in the lake and drink it?
  • What bacteria and/or microorganisms are present in drinking water that can cause illness?
    • Are there things we cannot see?
  • What similarities/differences do we see in the data from different water sites around Bothwell?
    • What factors would account for these similarities and differences?
  • What data can we collect from nearby water bodies? What does that data tell us?
    • How can we analyze that data?
    • What conclusions or predictions could we make?
  • How can freshwater be cleaned?
  • (in preparation of what students, especially those from downstate, might inquire) What happened in Flint, and how can we avoid that happening again?
  • Who does not have access to clean drinking water?
  • How are wells created and how do they work?
    • What is the cost of this project?
    • In what ways can we support those without access?

Opportunities for Data Collection

  • Observational - Not sure exactly what to expect here, but will talk to WTF (haha) to see what they can offer us
    • Water treatment facility
  • Naturalistic - Compare various data from different sites via Vernier probes
    • Pond by school
    • Ditch behind school
    • Orianna and Whetstone Creeks
    • Inland lakes
    • Lake Superior
  • Experimental- Looking for a plan here. Any ideas, anyone?


  • At the water treatment facility, students can perform hands-on tasks related to water filtration, etc. (these are in the works with the MQT water treatment facilities)
  • Storyboard of the water treatment process (or they may choose some form of artistic expression such as a poem, a comic, etc)
  • Group research on what can be found in water (good versus bad bacteria/microorganisms)
    • Students will create a flip-grid or WeVideo demonstrating their learning from their research
  • Macro-invertebrate study (a la what we did Wednesday morning at the dunes) with inquiry form and group presentation
    • Students will make an info-graph on the data they collected
  • White-board presentation and poster-walk (a la what we did Thursday morning with trail cameras) in regards to their data collection from water in local water sources & water quality tests
  • Canva posters helping educate their school-mates on the lack of clean water access to peoples across the world, that include solutions for this issue and how we can locally conserve water resources
  • Environmental Justice Research Paper in regards to water scarcity worldwide & solutions to this problem
    • Could be done in a variety of ways, such as a poster, tri-fold, Prezi, PowerPoint, etc.
    • Thinking maps, such as a double-bubble map, comparing their local water access and treatment to that of South Sudan, or other localities if they would prefer to research those

Materials Needed

  • Water Cycle overview
  • All the Water in the World, book by George Ella Lyon
  • Where is the all the Water? MEECS
  • Chromebooks
  • Bacterial tests
  • Water quality API test
  • A Long Walk to Water book
  • Chart paper
  • White-boards