Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive October 24, 2016
Student Reporting Labs STEM Lesson Plan: How well are our wells?
In the PBS NewsHour Extra lesson plan, “Colonia residents demand clean, safe water” students learn how climate change and human activities impact the quality and availability of groundwater by watching a PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs video. Students research a low-cost physical model of a well, choose a part of the groundwater and well problem and propose and defend their solution.
Science, social studies
1-5 x 50 minute class periods, depending on selected activities.
In the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab video, “Colonia residents demand clean, safe water,” Las Cruces High School students describe climate changes and human activities which impact quality and availability of groundwater, a natural resource of drinking and household water for over 1.5 million Americans.
Students gather information from a low-cost physical model and from USGS (United States Geological Survey) and EPA (Environmenal Protection Agency) internet resources. Students then choose a part of the groundwater and well problem, propose a solution and defend their proposal.
Objectives (based on the Next Generation Science Standards below):
Construct an explanation using video evidence, internet resources and a physical model about how a human activity (farming) has impacted the availability of a natural resource (well water).
Evaluate or refine a solution that reduces impact of farming on groundwater resources.
- Student handout and pen, pencils
- Computer and projector for viewing the video
- Student computers
- Physical model components: (https://www3.epa.gov/safewater/kids/flash/flash_aquifer.html)
Clear container at least 6 inches deep X 8 inches wide (such as a plastic storage container
1 lb. of modeling or floral clay
5 cups of white play sand
6 cups of small rocks (aquarium rocks work)
Plastic drinking straws
A plastic spray bottle with stem on the spray mechanism (be sure to completely rinse out any prior contents)
1 piece of green felt
¼ cup of powdered cocoa
Red food coloring
Eye dropper or pipette
Bucket or tub of water with cup for transferring water
Modifications: additional spray bottles
The following lesson plan activities revolve around completing the handout “How Well Is My Well?”
Engage: Student handout Part A
Time needed: 5-10 minutes in class or when completed at home prior to the lesson.
Materials: Student handout, pencil, colored pencils if desired.
Imagine that you cut a water-well down its middle all the way to 100 feet past the bottom of the well. Sketch what you think that side view might look like. Include details like surface and underground features, depth measurements and any others you might think about.
Explore: Student handout Part B:
Watch the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs video, “Colonia residents demand clean, safe water.”
Explain: Student handout Part C:
Follow the directions linked below to create a low cost physical model of groundwater with a well. Groundwater flow –physical model with a groundwater contamination lesson: (20 minutes) https://www3.epa.gov/safewater/kids/flash/flash_aquifer.html
Students may use the following links to explain what caused the water scarcity for the New Mexico Natives:
- Groundwater basics: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/mearthgw.html (Students may modify their initial drawing and add their notes on the right side of the student handout.)
Students can check their understanding with a formative assessment:
Groundwater true/false quiz: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-tf-groundwater.html
Students can better understand wells and how they work:
- Groundwater wells: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthgwwells.html (Students may further modify their initial drawing and add additional notes on the right side of the student handout).
Students can understand how human activities impact safe, sufficient groundwater:
- Groundwater depletion: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/gwdepletion.html
- Safe groundwater: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/wells/index.html
Agricultural demands on groundwater resources:
USGS Water Science School:
- http://water.usgs.gov/edu/ provides resources for teachers and students including a glossary, pictures, data, maps, and interactive opinion surveys.
Extend/Elaborate: Student handout Part D.
Students investigate and propose or refine solutions. (30 minutes)
Students propose how changes to the physical model would affect well water availability:
- From their revised drawing, circle the components that could be varied (number of wells, well depth, well shape, pumping frequency, plant type, depth of water, light intensity, for example).
Students propose changing a variable of their own choosing and explain their hypothesis about how that change will affect water availability to the well. For a longer term project (1-3 additional 50 minute periods or at home), students might select one proposed solution to test.
Students present their proposed solutions and explain their hypotheses. If students tested the proposed solution, they can present their data with analysis and make recommendations for further testing, implementation or revision.
- How does your drinking water taste? Survey and survey responses by US location (15 minutes)
- Water shortage: How would you handle the water crisis? (15 minutes)
- Students explore datasets and construct mathematical models using USGS groundwater data. They may then test their model’s predictive power. (long term inquiry project)
- The story of Dryville (also available as a class play) (30 minutes)
- How does history inform us about civilization and human water use? Students create posters comparing current groundwater practices with those of the ancient Mayans. (long term project)
Standards (Next Generation Science):
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity help students formulate an answer to the question: “How do Earth’s surface processes and human activities affect each other?”
Students who demonstrate understanding can:
HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
Dr. Andrea Cobb has taught and directed a senior research lab at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Virginia, since 2008. Dr. Cobb conducted a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University and received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Texas Tech University.
The Materials You Need
Tooltip of materials
Tooltip of related stories
More Lesson Plans
Tooltip of more video block
Tooltip of RSS content 3
ICE immigration raids took this school superintendent by surprise
Use this lesson plan to learn more about the ICE immigration raids in Mississippi and how schools have been affected. Continue readingChinese Exclusion ActColorin Coloradodepartment of homeland securityDonald TrumpEconomicseconomyeducationELLEnglish & Language ArtsEnglish language learnershispanichomeland securityICEimmigrantsimmigrationImmigrations and Customs Enforcementlesson planMississippi immigration raidprocessing plantsSchoolSuper Civics 2020U.S. historyundocumented workersunited states history
How the Statue of Liberty poem provides a lesson in immigration history
Use this NewsHour lesson plan to learn about the Trump administration’s changes to immigration policy and how it relates to the Statue of Liberty’s famous inscription. Continue readingAmerican HistoryChinese Exclusion ActColorin ColoradoDonald TrumpEconomicseconomyELAELLEmma LazarusEnglish & Language ArtsEnglish language learnersESLEuropeexecutive branchfood stampsGeographyGovernmentGovernment & Civicshuman geographyimmigrantsimmigrationImmigration Act of 1882Ken Cuccinellilesson planMedicaidNews & Media Literacypoetrypublic assistancepublic policySNAPSocial Issuessocial programsstatue of libertySuper Civics 2020Trump AdministrationU.S. historyunited states historyUS historyWICworld history
Study guide: Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests
Use this NewsHour Extra lesson plan to learn about the pro-democratic protests taking place in Hong Kong for the past 10 weeks. Continue readingauthoritarianismBeijingChinacivil rightscolonialismdemocracyGovernment & CivicsHong KongHong Kong airportHong Kong protestsLes MiserablesMusicmusic artsprotest musicSocial StudiesSuper Civics 2020
How public art builds community – Student Reporting Labs
Teachers with PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs created lessons on the importance of public art based on the work of SRL’s teen reporters. Check out these uplifting resources that cut across various disciplines! Continue readingartcivic engagementcivic participationELA EnglishgraffitiJournalismlesson planliberal arts and sciencesmuralsNews & Media LiteracyPBSPDprofessional developmentpublic artSRLSTEMstudent reporting labsyouth media
Educator Voice: Why The Beatles’ message of love never fails me
Members of the Beatles, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, cross Abbey Road…Abbey RoadartsArts & Cultureback to schoolBeatleseducationEducator VoiceloveMusicmusic educationprincipalSchoolschool administrator