Strand V
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Earth and Space Sciences in Real-World Contexts


Science/Strand V
Content Standard 2
All students will describe the characteristics of water and demonstrate where water is found on Earth; describe how water moves; and analyze the interaction of human activities with the hydrosphere. (Hydrosphere)


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 2
Middle School


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 2/Middle School
Benchmark 4
Describe the origins of pollution in the hydrosphere.

Benchmark Clarification

Humans, as well as nature, pollute the hydrosphere. Some of the human activities that can cause water pollution are:

  • Construction
  • Industrial waste
  • Agricultural runoff
  • Sewage
  • Household dumping
  • Burning of high sulphur coal, incinerators, car exhaust

Students will:

  • Investigate a human activity that causes water pollution

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 2/Middle School/Benchmark 4
Key Concept
Sources of pollution:

  • sewage
  • household dumping
  • industrial wastes
  • agricultural run-off

See Agricultural pollution (SCI.III.5.MS.6).


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 2/Middle School/Benchmark 4
Real World Context

  • examples of polluted water
  • examples of occasions when the water supply is restricted, such as during droughts or floods


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 2/Middle School/Benchmark 4
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: How do human activities interact with the hydrosphere?

Focus Question: What effect does pollution have on the source of water?

Students will participate in a field trip to collect water samples or the teacher will provide water samples from a lake, stream, river, pond, and household source. Students will make observations or receive descriptions of the natural and industrial surroundings of the five water sources. Students will hypothesize which water sample is most polluted, undrinkable, and why. Students will collect data by performing chemical tests (pH, dissolved oxygen, phosphate, nitrate, colliform, and turbidity and by making microscopic observations of the water samples. Students will compile and use data in charts and graphs to evaluate their original hypothesis. Students will compare and contrast the results of the four water samples to household drinking water and determine if they would consume water from the other four sources.

Note: Teachers should emphasize the increasingly important role that aerial transport of contaminants into water bodies. Most of the Pb and Hg reaching Lake Superior, for example, comes from aerial transport. This leads to a discussion on our interconnectedness because with aerial transport, state and international boundaries are easily crossed. How one state pollutes impacts another.

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.MS.2), (SCI.I.1.MS.3), (SCI.I.1.MS.4).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.MS.1), (SCI.II.1.MS.2), (SCI.II.1.MS.3), (SCI.II.1.MS.5).


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 2/Middle School/Benchmark 4
Assessment Example

Students will write lab reports about the investigations they performed in the Instructional Example that include analysis of the data and the rationale behind their decisions to consider water consumable or not. The data should be represented in data tables and graphs that include the results of chemical tests, sketches of microscopic observations, and collection of geographical data.

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Completeness of chemical test data

Presents a chart that shows results of one test.

Presents a chart that shows results of two test types.

Presents a chart that shows results of three test types.

Presents a chart that shows all testing results.

Accuracy of microscopic sketches

Attempts a sketch of micro-organism(s).

Completes a sketch of micro-organism(s).

Completes a sketch of micro-organism(s) showing detail.

Completes sketches of micro-organisms that are detailed and concise.

Completeness of geographical data

Attempts to present geographical data.

Displays one or two areas of geographical data.

Displays all geographical data.

Displays geographical data that is accurate and complete.

Accuracy of conclusion

Attempts a conclusion.

Provides an acceptable conclusion.

Provides a detailed conclusion.

Provides a detailed and accurate conclusion.

Completeness of lab report

Presents limited information that is relevant to water consumption.

Presents information that demonstrates an effort to organize the information.

Presents an accurate, interesting, and well-organized report.

Presents an interesting and accurate report that is clearly focused with explanation of results.


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 2/Middle School/Benchmark 4


A List of 100 Curricula for Educating Youth About Water.

Acid Rain Sourcebook: “Activities, information and things you can do about acid rain.”

Acorn Naturalists: “Resources for Exploring Aquatic Habitats (Water quality monitoring equipment, aquatic nets, etc.”

Common Aquatic Plants of Michigan: — A description of some of the most commonly occurring aquatic plants in Michigan.”

Ecosystem Experiments for Young Investigators — Water Experiments.

Acid Rain. GEMS.

Crowder, Jane. Water Matters- Volume 2- Navigation, Groundwater and Water Quality. NSTA, 1997.

Global Rivers Environmental Education Network.

Stapp, William. Field Guide for Water Quality Testing.

Water Precious Water. AIMS.