George Stengren                                                                                                   Return to Earth Sciences Menu

MS 167 Manhattan

Summer 2001

 Water Resources


This lesson is designed to encourage project based learning

Students will design, build, and test a model water treatment plant


Project Descriptors

This project is intended for midyear and will encompass 12 instructional periods over 6 weeks.

Working in groups of 4, students will design, build, and test a model water treatment plant. Students will write mini-grant proposals to get materials.

The design parameters will include simplicity, low cost, and readily available materials.

The water product must meet the following minimum standards: demonstrably free of microorganisms, optical density within 10% of distilled water.

Each group must present their design, results, and model to the class in a modified poster session.

Each design will be communicated over the internet to a class in the less developed world for possible testing/evaluation. Feedback will be solicited on the designs.

If any of the designs show promise in a wider sense, further actions will be taken to promulgate the work.



Water samples from varied sources, including water with microorganisms.

General school supplies

Plastic Columns

Support Stands with clamps

Plastic tubing

General Labware

Large quantities of Earth Materials such as sand, clay, marble and granite chips, clay, charcoal, and plastic beads.

Strainers, funnels, and filter paper


Isopropyl alcohol

Agar Plates, or Carolina Biological Water test Kit

Triple Beam Balances

Microscopes, Slides, Lugol’s, and droppers

Petri Dishes

2-TI83 Graphing Calculators and CBL base units per group

CBL probes for temperature, pH, Conductivity, and Colorimetry

TI Graphlink cables and software

Internet access computers (sufficient for upload/download and email)

Video (water resources in NYC, Lesotho, and Paraguay)

Worksheets, lab notebooks, and rubrics


Prior Knowledge


Students will have learned about standards and units of measure.

Students will have learned to use basic lab instruments and the CBL system.

Students will have already done a small project, and will be aware of assessment and planning procedures.

Students will have some familiarity with computer technology to include word processing, email, and basic research.

Students will enter this investigation with knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of water, the basic elements of climate, and the water cycle.


Introductory Lesson


1]Show parts of videos on water resources. Locate areas of interest on class maps.

2]Use internet to access stories from the lesser developed world about water and water resources.

3]Key questions-

Why is water important?

How would your life be different if you lacked plentiful, safe water?

4] Students write journal response, compare responses within group, and ‘polish’ their statements for homework.

5]Questions to think about (leading to next day):

            What are the physical properties of safe drinking water?

            What are the biological properties of safe drinking water?

New York City Standards

Social Studies Standards 3-5

Science Standards S1b, S2f, S3e, S4a-e, S5a-b, S5e-f,S6-S8.