Michigan Geographic Alliance
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan
Middle School
  • Envrionment
  • Envrionmental
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Education Standards

    Water Quality Lesson 6 : Would You Drink This Water?


    Students discover that many contaminants cannot be seen,
    smelled, or tasted, so water chemistry analysis has to
    be done to ensure the safety of drinking water. Students
    perform a serial dilution to observe that even an extremely
    small concentration of a contaminant can still pose a threat
    to human health.

    Lesson Overview

    Students discover that many contaminants cannot be seen,
    smelled, or tasted, so water chemistry analysis has to
    be done to ensure the safety of drinking water. Students
    perform a serial dilution to observe that even an extremely
    small concentration of a contaminant can still pose a threat
    to human health. Students research water management
    milestones and discover that water quality has been a
    concern for thousands of years. In the assessment, students
    investigate public and private drinking water systems using
    the EPA’s Water On Tap booklet for consumers. In an
    enhancement activity, students examine their community’s
    Water Quality Consumer Confidence Report to check the
    safety of their drinking water.

    Focus Questions
    Students answer these essential questions: How do we
    know our water is safe to drink? What units are used to
    measure water pollution? Has our water always been clean?
    Who is responsible for protecting our drinking water?

    Subject/Target Grade
    Science and Social Studies/
    Middle School (6-8)
    50 minutes – Classroom setting
    per class
    • red food coloring
    • 3 clear 9 oz. plastic cups partially filled
    with water (add sand and vinegar)
    Maximum Contaminant Levels in Drinking
    (transparency master)
    Serial Dilution (answer key)
    Timeline of Important Events in Water
    History with no dates
    (transparency master)
    Timeline of Important Events in Water
    History with dates
    (transparency master/
    answer key)
    Who Cares About Water Quality? Why Do
    They Care?
    (transparency master)
    Water on Tap Questions (answer key)
    Lesson 6 Overview PowerPoint (optional,
    on MEECS Water Quality CD)
    • bar or meter stick

    per small group
    • 4-oz. cup labeled well water
    • 4-oz. cup labeled rinse water
    • 1 clear, plastic Chemplate® or white ice
    cube tray with cups numbered from 1-9
    • white sheet of paper to place under
    • 2 water droppers
    • paper towel
    • calculator
    Serial Dilution (student activity)

    per student
    • Water History Timeline no dates (student
    —see Advanced Preparation)
    • copy of Water on Tap by EPA (on MEECS
    Water Quality CD or see Additional
    Water on Tap Questions (student
    • science journal or note paper


    Students will be able to:
    1. Define “contaminant” and the units used to measure
    2. Identify important milestones in the history of water
    3. Conduct a serial dilution.
    4. Describe the considerations in setting a water quality

    Michigan Grade Level Content

    Science Grades 6-7:
    • Describe the origins of pollution in the
    atmosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere
    and how pollution impacts habitats, climatic
    change, threatens or endangers species.
    • Analyze the flow of water between
    components of a watershed, including surface
    features (lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands) and
    groundwater E.ES.07.82

    Social Studies Grades 6-8:
    • Clearly state an issue as a question or public
    policy, trace the origins of the issue, analyze
    various perspectives, and generate and
    evaluate alternate resolutions 6 - P3.1.1,
    7 - P3.1.1

    • Demonstrate knowledge of how, when, and
    where individuals would plan and conduct
    activities intended to advance views in
    matters of public policy, report the results,
    and evaluate effectiveness. 6 - P4.2.1
    • Identify the role of the individual in history
    and the significance of one person’s ideas
    7 - H1.2.6
    • Describe the environmental effects of
    human action on the atmosphere, biosphere,
    lithosphere and hydrosphere. 7 - G5.1.1
    • Explain how governments address national
    issues and form policies, and how the policies
    may not be consistent with those of other
    countries. 7-C4.3.1

    Math Grades 6-8:
    • Understand division of fractions as the inverse
    of multiplication. N.MR.06.01
    • Given an applied situation involving dividing
    fractions, write a mathematical statement to
    represent the situation. N.FL.06.02

    HS Earth Science:
    • Explain how water quality in both
    groundwater and surface systems is impacted
    by land use decisions. E4.1C

    HS Biology:
    • Examine the negative impact of human
    activities. B3.4C
    • Recognize and describe how the physical or
    chemical environment may influence the rate,
    extent, and nature of population dynamics
    within ecosystems. B3.5e

    Advance Preparation

    1. To prepare the “Hook,” partially fill three clear,
    plastic cups with water, and label 1, 2, 3. Put
    a visible pollutant, such as sand, in the first
    cup. Add vinegar or other non-visible, smelly
    contaminant to cup 2. Do not alter cup 3.

    2. Organize all of the materials (listed under ‘per
    small group’) for the serial dilution so they are
    ready to distribute to each student group.

    3. Make two overhead transparencies of the
    Timeline of Important Events in Water History
    with no dates. Cut one into individual events.
    A few days before teaching this lesson, show
    students the intact overhead transparency of the
    Timeline of Important Events in Water History
    ith no dates. Tell them we want to find out
    when these events occurred and put them into
    chronological order. Give each student several
    events to research to find the approximate dates
    (decade or century) when the events occurred.

    4. Make copies of Water on Tap (2009) for each
    student group or individual student to use to
    complete the assessment (pdf on MEECS Water
    Quality CD Lesson 6 or download from the U.S.
    EPA Groundwater and Drinking Water website:

    5. Obtain a copy of the Water Quality Consumer
    Confidence Report
    for your community’s
    drinking water available from your
    local water supplier or online at
    (optional enhancement activity).

    Background Information (Optional Student Reading)

    History of Water Management
    For thousands of years, humans have been
    challenged with the need to have clean drinking
    water and to dispose of their wastes. As early as
    4000 B.C.E., ancient Hindu and Sanskrit (India)
    writings described various water treatments; by
    1500 B.C.E. Egyptians and Greeks were installing
    the first indoor plumbing; and by 312 B.C.E. Roman
    aqueducts were transporting millions of liters of
    clean water to the city for public use. The need for
    clean drinking water, drinking water treatment, and
    wastewater treatment were first suggested more than
    6000 years ago, yet only in the past 100 years has
    it been accomplished on a broad scale in the United
    States. However, many developing countries in the
    world still lack access to sanitation (> 2 billion) and
    potable water (> 1 billion). The invention of the
    microscope in 1674 gave people the capacity to see
    potentially harmful microorganisms in water. Before
    then, when people got sick and died, making the
    connection with open sewers or houses that were not
    ventilated was difficult. People wondered how air
    and water that looked perfectly clear and clean could
    hurt them. In 1877, Louis Pasteur confirmed that
    specific microbes could be linked to disease. Only
    then could public health campaigns and sanitary
    engineering join forces to eradicate diseases.

    In 1884, Massachusetts Board of Health officials
    asked Ellen Swallow Richards at the Massachusetts
    Institute of Technology (MIT) to undertake the first
    statewide study of water pollution. She tested over
    40,000 samples and created the first water quality
    standards and assessment map of Massachusetts. The
    first municipal water and sewer systems in the United
    States began to be built in the late 19th century. Public
    health agencies were formed and laws passed.

    The Clean Water Act (CWA), also called the
    Federal Water Pollution Control Act, of 1972 (and
    amendments) is the cornerstone of surface water
    quality protection in the United States. (The Act
    does not deal directly with ground water or with water quantity issues.) The statute employs a variety of regulatory and nonregulatory tools to sharply
    reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways,
    as well as finance municipal wastewater treatment
    facilities and manage polluted runoff. The goal of
    the CWA is to restore and maintain the chemical,
    physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s
    waters so that they can support “the protection
    and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife
    and recreation in and on the water.” The CWA is
    enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection
    Agency (EPA), in partnership with the states.

    Source water refers to untreated water from
    streams, rivers, lakes, or groundwater aquifers
    that is used to supply private and public drinking
    water. Protecting drinking water at its source before
    occurs is both economical and effective
    for communities and water users.

    Preventing contamination of drinking water supplies
    is an important mission within EPA’s Office of
    Ground Water and Drinking Water (http://water.epa.
    gov/drink/index.cfm). Identifying possible pollution
    sources is the first step to safeguarding drinking
    water. In Lesson 5 on groundwater, students were
    introduced to the concept of a wellhead protection
    program that protects a community’s groundwater
    source from potential contaminants.

    If your drinking water comes from a well, you most
    likely also have a septic system. Septic systems
    and other on-site wastewater disposal systems are
    potential sources of contamination to private water
    well supplies if they are poorly maintained, located
    improperly, undersized, or used for disposal of toxic
    chemicals. Information on proper septic system
    construction and maintenance is available from local
    health departments and the Michigan Department of
    Environmental Quality.

    The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (and
    amendments in 1986 and 1996) protects public health
    by regulating the nation’s more than 160,000 public
    drinking water systems from their source—rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and groundwater wells— to the tap (the law does not regulate private wells
    which serve fewer than 25 individuals). The law
    directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to
    establish drinking water quality standards for many
    contaminants. A contaminant is any substance in
    the air, water or land that causes harm. The EPA sets
    enforceable maximum contaminant levels (MCL)
    for selected contaminants in drinking water. The
    levels are based on sound science and are intended
    to protect against health risks, considering available
    technology and costs. When it is not economically
    or technically possible to set an MCL, or when
    there is no reliable or economic method to detect
    contaminants in the water, EPA instead sets a required
    Treatment Technique (TT), which specifies a way
    to treat the water to remove contaminants.

    Primary Drinking Water Standards (termed
    primary standards) are legally enforceable standards
    established by the EPA that apply to all public
    water systems that serve more than 25 individuals
    or have more than 15 service connections. Primary
    standards protect public health by limiting the levels
    of contaminants in drinking water (http://water.epa.
    gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm). Each primary
    standard includes requirements for water systems
    to test for contaminants in the water to make sure
    standards are achieved. Many municipalities must
    provide drinking water treatment before the water
    is used, in order to meet the primary standards.
    Municipal drinking water providers must
    demonstrate that they are complying with these
    standards by annually providing a water quality
    Consumer Confidence Report (http://www.epa.
    gov/safewater/dwinfo.htm), which must be made
    available to consumers by mailing, posting online,
    or publishing in the local newspaper.

    Secondary Drinking Water Standards are non-
    enforceable standards recommended by the EPA for contaminants that may cause cosmetic effects (such as skin or tooth discoloration) or aesthetic
    effects (such as taste, odor, or color) in drinking
    water. EPA recommends that water systems comply
    with secondary standards for such contaminants as
    copper, iron, odor, color, aluminum, corrosivity, and
    pH, but does not require systems to do so.

    How is Wastewater Treated?
    After the water is used, wastewater treatment
    facilities remove numerous contaminants, including
    solid human wastes, dirt, fats, oils, greases,
    ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorus, and bacteria before
    discharging to rivers or lakes. Homeowners and
    businesses pay for drinking water treatment and
    wastewater treatment through utility bills and fees,
    as well as property, state, and federal taxes. Until
    the passage of the national Clean Water Act in
    1972, most cities in the United States discharged
    raw, untreated sewage into nearby waterways.
    Municipalities are now required to remove most
    contaminants before discharging into waterways.
    Municipal drinking water treatment and wastewater
    treatment have contributed significantly, more than
    most medical breakthroughs, to improving public
    health and human longevity (Water Environment
    Federation, The advantages of
    clean water are improved public health and
    enjoyment, a cleaner environment, greater economic
    development, recreation, productive fisheries,
    increased property values, and the ability to preserve
    our water resources for use by future generations.


    1. Hook Your Students: Would you drink this

    Set out the three clear plastic cups of water
    labeled 1, 2, and 3 (see Advance Preparation).
    Post the question: Which of these three cups of
    water are safe to drink?
    Draw a bar graph on
    the board with five columns labeled: 1, 2, 3,
    None, and All. Students can record their choice
    by placing an “X” in one of the columns, or you can ask for a show of hands, or use self-
    adhesive notes.

    Note: An optional PowerPoint is
    available on the MEECS Water Quality
    CD to introduce this lesson.

    2. Introduce the importance of clean water.
    Hold up the cup of clean water (cup #3) and ask:
    Is this water clean? How do you know if this
    water is safe to drink? Swim in? Fish in? What
    could you do to determine if the water was safe
    to drink?
    [To be assured of clean water, it must
    be tested.]

    Can we always see pollution? [Most students
    will agree that water pollution cannot always
    be seen. Some pollutants that cannot be
    seen include bacteria, petroleum products
    (e.g., benzene), dioxin, lead, mercury, MTBE
    (gasoline additive), nitrates, selenium, pesticides
    (e.g., toluene, toxaphene, etc.). ]

    Write the following questions on the board and
    give students five minutes to respond to them in
    their journals or in their class notes: What can be
    done to ensure that our water is safe to drink?

    To swim in? To eat the fish? [Prevent pollutants
    from entering our water or treat the water before
    we drink it.]

    Make the connection between water use,
    wastewater, and water quality to students’ daily
    lives by asking:
    How many of you collected your drinking water
    from a puddle today?
    Who took a bath last night in the same water
    that other family members used?
    When you walked to school this morning, did
    you get splattered by human wastes as someone
    emptied their chamber pot into the street?

    Note: Chamber pots were used to contain
    human wastes during the night before
    homes had indoor plumbing. During the
    day, people used outhouses. Lack of indoor
    plumbing was an especially big problem in
    cities, where large numbers of people lived
    in close proximity.

    3. Define “contaminant” and introduce
    Maximum Contaminant Levels.

    While the need for clean water was first recorded
    6000 years ago, the first water quality standards
    were not established until 100 years ago. A
    “contaminant” is any substance in the air, water,
    or land, including microorganisms, chemicals,
    metals, etc., that may be harmful to human health.

    Display the Maximum Contaminant Levels in
    Drinking Water
    overhead transparency. The
    Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) is the
    maximum amount of a contaminant allowed in
    drinking water that is legally enforceable in the
    United States. MCLs are set as close as possible
    to the level below which there is no known or
    expected risk to health and removal is feasible
    using the best available treatment technology,
    taking cost into consideration.

    Ask students to look at the second column. What
    is a part per million?
    Write ppt, ppb, ppm, ppth
    on the board and explain these abbreviations.
    Which of these amounts is largest? [ppth]
    Smallest? [ppt]
    • ppt = part per trillion (smallest)
    • ppb = part per billion
    • ppm = part per million
    • ppth = part per thousand (largest) 

    Ask students to look at the Maximum
    Contaminant Level table on the overhead
    transparency and ask: Which of these regulated
    contaminants have you heard of before? Where
    do these contaminants come from? How can
    they hurt us?
    Note that even very small amounts
    of these contaminants can harm human health.
    Specialized equipment is used to measure the
    presence of these contaminants.

    It is hard to avoid harmful substances; they
    are all around the land, air, and water.
    Many potentially harmful substances are around
    because they are “good” for something else.
    PCBs are harmful chemicals when consumed
    by people but, in the past, were used in making
    electrical equipment. Pesticides like DDT,
    chlordane, and toxaphene may increase a
    farmer’s crop yield by killing insects that eat
    the crops; however, pesticides can also harm
    fish and wildlife and contaminate our drinking
    water. Dioxins are used in the manufacture
    of paper (whitening process), but have been
    found to be extremely toxic to humans in very
    small amounts. As you can imagine, solving the
    problems of contaminants in our air, food, and
    water is a complex task.

    4. Understanding parts per million: How little is

    What are some examples of one part per
    Brainstorm ways to comprehend a ppm. One part per million is equivalent to:
    • One second in 12 days of your life
    • One penny in $10,000
    • One pinch of salt in 10 tons of potato chips
    • One inch in 16 miles

    5. Conduct a serial dilution to illustrate ppm,
    ppb, and ppt.

    Arrange students in small groups. Distribute the
    materials and the Serial Dilution student activity
    pages. Put a few drops of 10% food coloring in
    each group’s Cup 1. Have the students follow
    the directions on their student activity pages.

    After all serial dilutions have been made, discuss
    how to calculate the concentration of food
    coloring in each cup. When could you no longer
    see the food coloring/contaminant?
    [Cup 6-8.]
    Why might there have been differences between
    [Larger-sized drops of food coloring
    or smaller sized drops of water, or other errors
    in procedure.] Has the contaminant gone away
    if we can no longer see it?
    [No, because of
    the law of conservation of mass which states
    that ‘matter can change form, but cannot be
    created or destroyed.’
    ] Can you think of a way
    to confirm the presence of food coloring in the
    cups where it cannot be seen?
    [Allow the water
    to evaporate and a precipitate will be left in the
    bottom of the cup.]

    Go over the data table (an answer key is
    provided). Where is there one part food coloring
    per thousand drops of water?
    [Cup 3.] Where is
    there one part food coloring per million parts of
    [Cup 6.] How many more dilutions would
    it take to reach a concentration of 1 ppb?
    more—Cup 9.] These tiny amounts represent
    enough of a contaminant to be harmful.

    Have each group play the role of the
    Environmental Protection Agency. Assign each
    group one contaminant from the table of MCLs
    in Drinking Water.
    Tell students that one ppm
    of their assigned contaminant has been found in the school’s drinking water. Use the information
    in the table, they should determine whether one
    ppm level of that contaminant poses a human
    health risk. Have students share their findings
    with the class.

    6. Develop a timeline of milestones in water
    quality management.

    Ask students to take out their Timeline of Water
    (no dates) student activity page with
    the list of events over the past 6,000 years,
    from 4000 B.C.E. to present. Students should
    also take out the overhead transparency strips
    with the events they were assigned to research
    for homework. On the overhead projector, post
    several events (on overhead transparency strips)
    with the correct dates. Have students add their
    assigned events to the timeline. Once every
    student has posted their events, ask the class
    if they would make any changes to the order
    of events. After a class discussion, arrange the
    events in the proper order.

    Has our water always been as clean as it is
    [No.] Have toilets, showers, and bathtubs
    always existed?
    [No, they first were used about
    1,700 B.C.E.]
    Have people always enjoyed clean running
    water out of a faucet in their bathroom and
    [No, but Greeks first had showers in
    700 B.C.E.]
    Is caring about clean water a new idea?
    [No, ancient Greeks first talked about it in
    4,000 B.C.E. or 6,000 years ago!]
    Why is it important to learn about this timeline
    of water quality management?
    [Humans have
    been aware of the need for clean water and
    proper disposal of wastes for thousands of years,
    yet we still have water pollution and more than

    1 billion people in the world do not have access
    to clean drinking water. Other reasons include:
    • We need to learn from past human
    environmental health disasters (Love Canal,
    burning rivers, Reserve Mining Company)
    to prevent future catastrophes.
    • We need to recognize the importance
    of scientific research to solve problems
    affecting our daily lives. Scientific research
    continues to discover new information and
    treatment technologies, such as how to better
    clean water, monitor for and remove new
    contaminants, prevent contamination, or
    reuse wastewater.
    • We need to celebrate the efforts of important
    people throughout history who have made
    our lives easier and healthier.
    • We need to recognize the importance of
    laws, regulations, and standards (such as
    federal Water Pollution Control Act, Safe
    Drinking Water Act, etc.) to protect human
    health and the environment.]

    7. Discuss how water quality standards are set.
    How does the U.S. Environmental Protection
    Agency (EPA) determine how much of a
    contaminant is harmful?
    EPA, scientists,
    consumer organizations, industry, and water
    plant operators work together to establish
    water quality standards by discussing three
    • What is technologically feasible?
    • What is economically affordable?
    • What level of contaminant will adequately
    protect public health?
    This is a delicate balancing act. The more
    stringent the standard, the more people are
    protected. The more relaxed a standard, the more
    likely that some people could be harmed. It
    typically costs more to remove every tiny bit of
    contamination to meet a more stringent standard.
    Sometimes the technology may not even exist to
    allow us to meet the more stringent standard.

    Display the Who Cares About Water Quality?
    Why Do They Care?
    overhead transparency. Ask
    students to brainstorm why each of these entities
    would be concerned about clean water. Display
    the responses given on the overhead transparency
    answer key after discussion.

    8. Play a game of Water Quality Limbo to
    demonstrate challenges of meeting water
    quality standards.

    How can we demonstrate the challenge of
    meeting water quality standards?
    Students will
    find out how much more difficult it becomes to
    meet more stringent water quality standards by
    playing a game.

    • A bar or meter stick held horizontally (like
    a limbo stick) will be used to represent a
    water quality standard. The students holding
    the stick are the water users (from the Who
    • Ask 5-10 student volunteers to be the water
    going under the bar. Water that gets under
    the bar has successfully been treated and met
    the standard.
    • Start with the bar at shoulder height, where
    everyone can get under. Select a contaminant
    from the MCL table, for example,
    “mercury.” As the amount of mercury
    allowed in the water gets smaller and smaller
    and the standards become stricter and more
    difficult to meet, the bar is lowered.
    • Play several rounds with different
    contaminants from the MCL chart, lowering
    the bar each time, until you have only a few
    students left. Suggest various reasons for
    the standards getting stricter: new research
    reveals more health impacts, scientists
    discover new treatment technologies, the
    city improves their drinking water treatment
    system, which allows more of a contaminant
    to be removed, but costs more, etc.

    • Discuss the outcome: As water quality
    improves, the effort to make it just a little
    bit cleaner
    usually gets more difficult
    and more expensive. There is a need to
    balance potential harm to human health (see
    Maximum Contaminant Level table) with
    costs for implementation to industry and

    Ask the students to list activities they do that
    require water. Next, ask the students to note
    those activities that require the highest water
    quality (cleanest water) and those activities that
    do not necessarily require “clean” water. For
    example, washing a car and flushing a toilet do
    not require drinkable water; however, that is
    what we use! You may be willing to go boating
    in a body of water that is non-potable (drinkable)
    or use non-potable water to water your lawn.
    Students may have already experienced dual
    flush toilets that save water and money. The dual
    flush toilet comes with two buttons—one for a
    full flush (1 gallon) to flush solid wastes, and
    a second for a half flush (1/2 gallon) for liquid

    Tell students that different water quality
    standards have been established for:
    • Drinking water (highest standard)
    • Body contact (for swimming and boating)
    • Aquatic life (requires relatively clean water;
    however, many aquatic organisms can live
    in water that does not come close to the
    standard for human consumption)

    Assessment Option

    Distribute copies of the Water On Tap: what
    you need to know
    booklet published by the U.S.
    Environmental Protection Agency (2009) and the
    Water On Tap assessment activity to students or
    to small groups. Students will work in groups to
    answer the questions related to their drinking water.

    Remind students that they do not need to read the
    booklet from cover to cover—just look for headings
    that correspond to the questions.

    Optional: Assign for homework


    1. Take students on a tour of your local wastewater
    treatment facility.

    2. Investigate the safety of your community’s
    drinking water by checking your local Water
    Quality Consumer Confidence Report.
    You may see if it is online (
    information-consumers) or request a copy from your local drinking water supplier. Teachers may de-sign a scavenger hunt to guide students’
    careful examination of their local Water Quality
    Con-sumer Confidence Report.

    3. Use the TechAlive online web module
    Water and Wastewater Treatment to view the
    operation of a water treatment facility

    4. Engage students in researching and then
    debating current water issues, such as:
    • Drinking bottled v. tap water?
    • Public v. private ownership of community
    water supplies?
    • What level of risk or uncertainty is
    permissible for public drinking water (i.e.
    the number of allowable deaths?) when
    setting a drinking water quality standard?

    Additional Resources

    Aqua Venturer© Time Machine Travel Through Wastewater Past, Present, and Future provides a global timeline of water use and treatment through history from 10,000 BCE to 2050 CE, illustrating water’s
    importance to the development of human civilizations. For all ages from the Water Environment Federation. Retrieved July 18, 2011 from

    Be in the Know, Go With the Flow is a diagram of the wastewater treatment process by the Water Environment Federation. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from flow-book-an-inside-look-at-wastewater-treatment.pdf

    Drinking Water and Ground Water Kids Stuff provides age-appropriate games and activities for students in grades K-3, 4-8, and 9-12 and classroom lessons, games, and activities for their teachers. From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.
    Retrieved July 18, 2011, from

    EPA Drinking Water posters

    Powers of Ten: A Question of Scale from Quarks to Quasars website is based on the film Powers of Ten produced by Charles and Ray Eames. This site explores the effect of adding another zero. It is a visual journey consisting of 42 images—42 powers of ten. At one end of the journey is the immensity of the known universe, 13.7 billion years old with a radius of at least 12 billion light years. At the other end of the
    journey is a depiction of the three quarks within a proton. Retrieved July 18, 2011, from

    Understanding Your Drinking Water Sample Results (2006) brochure helps consumers interpret the results of bacteriological and partial chemical tests of drinking water from their household wells. From the Michigan Environmental Health Association. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from

    Water on Tap: What You Need to Know (2009) is a comprehensive, 36-page guide to drinking water quality information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that covers both private and public water supplies. Retrieved July 23, 2011, from

    Curriculum Connections

    The Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide 2.0 contains 64 water education activities for K-12 students described on 590 pages. Activities are organized into seven broad categories about water including its unique physical and chemical characteristics, how it is how it integrates all earth systems, its limited availability, water resources management, and social and cultural values. Helpful cross reference and
    planning charts help educators to quickly find the “right” activity for an age group, setting, concept, etc. In addition, WET educators may access a new companion Portal that contains searchable databases, discussion groups, state education correlations, and so much more. The Guide can only be obtained by attending a workshop (contact the Michigan Project essential for all life, WET coordinator for information).
    Project WET Foundation (2011) Bozeman, MT.

    Groundwater Contamination: Trouble in Fruitvale is designed for use in grades 6–12. The module contains a series of 12 activities for 3–4 weeks of instruction. Students design and carry out a plan for testing groundwater from different wells located throughout a fictional city and adjacent rural areas to determine the contamination’s source, severity, extent, and rate of travel. These data are used to analyze the risk to Fruitvale’s water supply. Students then read about several clean-up options and participate in a role- play of a town meeting to decide which clean-up option to use. Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California-Berkeley. (1996). Science Education for Public Understanding Program (SEPUP) Series. New York: Lab-Aid, Inc.

    Focus on Risk by Project Learning Tree contains eight hands-on activities where students analyze, explore, discover, and learn about risk assessment, risk communication, risk perception, and risk management. Student gain valuable critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making skill.

    Healthy Water, Healthy People: Water Quality Educators Guide is a 200-page activity guide with 25 interactive lessons for students in grades six through university level that focus on personal, public and environmental health.Project WET and the Hach Scientific Foundation. The Watercourse. (2003). Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. Retrieved July 10, 2018 from


    Literature Connections

    Flush! Treating Wastewater takes young readers on a thorough and humorous tour through a wastewater treatment plant, answering questions that kids themselves ask. It includes a history of sanitation, color photographs, clear diagrams, and a concluding section on natural alternative methods of wastewater treatment. Coombs, Karen Mueller. (1995). Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, Inc.

    Adventurous Spirit: A Story about Ellen Swallow Richards describes the struggles and successes of the first woman to earn a Bachelor of Science from MIT in 1873 and who became the most prominent female American chemist of the 19th century. Richards (1842–1911) was a pioneer in sanitary engineering in the United States and is considered to be the first female environmental engineer in the world! Her survey of
    the quality of the inland bodies of water of Massachusetts in the late 19th century, many of which were already polluted with industrial wastes and municipal sewage, led to the first state water-quality standards in the nation and the first modern municipal sewage treatment plant in Lowell, MA. Richards was eager to apply scientific principles to the environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization, sanitation, clean water, and pure air, as well as, good nutrition, pure foods, and physical fitness. This book traces her
    youth, education, and career as a chemist, and her study of water pollution and public health. Vare, Ethlie A. (1992). Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, Inc.

    Rachel Carson imagined a world in which no birds sang, and through the power of her pen and her scientific understanding, changed the world so that would not happen. This book shows young readers the events of Carson’s life that shaped her into one of the most influential environmental writers of all time. Stewart, Melissa (2001). Ferguson Publishing.

    Where Does Your Water Come From? The Drinking Water Source Book teaches grades 5-8 about the sources of drinking water. Colorful photographs and engaging text describe the water cycle, watersheds, surface water, ground water, aquatic ecosystems, water quality and its effect on living things, sources of water pollution, and how to prevent pollution in their own communities. Development of this booklet
    was funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Environmental Education Training Foundation. Discounts are available for orders of 31 books or more. Contact the Water Education Foundation (916-444-6240) or

    Plumbing: The Arteries of Civilization (2000) is part of the History Channel’s Modern Marvels video series. Find out what happens behind the walls of your house when you turn on the shower. How were the ancient Romans able to provide hot and cold running water millennia before the advent of electricity and heat? Behind the seemingly mundane topic of plumbing lies one of the most important stories in the history
    of civilization, for without water, there cannot be life. The video chronicles the history of water use. (51 minutes)

    Tapped examines the unregulated world of bottled water, from plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottle end up. This documentary examines the big business of bottled water from consumer marketing, to cost, to the energy embodied in the plastic bottles and myriad of related water quality and supply issues. (75-minutes and 54-minutes)

    Thirst asks the question, “Is water part of a shared ‘commons,’ a human right for all people? Or is it a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded in a global marketplace?” Over a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Each year, millions of children die of diseases caused by unsafe water. The numbers are increasing. Thirst tells the stories of communities in Bolivia, India, and the United States that are asking
    these fundamental questions. (62 minutes)