Appendix H: Extension Activities
1. Recognizing Bias
As students conduct research on global water issues, it is important to recognize that sources of information may have some form of bias, intentionally or unintentionally. Even when a piece appears to be neutral, the author has still made choices about what information to share with the reader.
Discuss the meaning of bias with students: “to be influenced by feelings and beliefs rather than solely by facts.”
Have students read these two movie reviews, one from FOX News and the other from the Los Angeles Times. Note that the FOX News site may contain inappropriate ads, so students should use good digital citizenship (not click other links) and stay focused on the activity.
> New Documentary: Wars Will Be Soon Be Fought Over a Water
(from FOX News)
> Movie review: 'Last Call at the Oasis' smartly sounds alarm on water
(from Los Angeles Times)
Both of these pieces review the same movie, but they come to different conclusions. Ask students: What biases do you detect in each piece?
Use these prompts to help direct students’ thinking:
- Within the two pieces, what positions are shared, and does the news organization appear to favor one position over the other? How can you tell?
- What positions are different? Why do you think that is?
- What factors play a role in what the reviewer decides to report?
- Do any of the positions seem more credible than others? Why?
- Who stands to gain from each position?
- Describe who you believe is the typical audience for Fox News and for the Los Angeles Times . How are they the same or different?
How does bias influence people's perception of water issues?
The class discussion could be conducted via an online tool such as a wiki or Voice Thread. If you wish, ask students to share examples of bias they come across by posting examples online using VoiceThread.com or Padlet.com . Be sure to visit these sites in advance to learn how to use them.
2. Water is Big Business
> "Blue Gold: Water Wars" (full length video)
(from Top Documentary Films)
This documentary video takes a look at how water is used as a commodity by corporations. Note: There are some scenes of violence.
This video looks at access to water from a corporate perspective. This video can be used to augment discussion of water issues. Students can write an argument for or against the role of big business depicted in this film.
3. Water Testing
To extend the lesson, students may do additional water testing. Begin by bringing in two beakers of water—one muddy and visibly dirty, and the other clear. Ask students which of the beakers is clean. Help students come up with a definition of clean water by considering what clean water feels, looks, smells and tastes like. Ask students which type of tests can be performed in order to quantifiably determine if water is clean or not.
Students should then conduct water-quality testing on the two samples using commercially prepared kits. Students should first examine the physical properties of the water (smell, color) to make a hypothesis about whether the water is clean or not. Depending on the kit, students could then test for coliform bacteria, lead, pH, nitrate, phosphate or turbidity. After performing water tests and recording data, students should be asked if they have more evidence about the purity of their water, or if they would like to change their original hypotheses.
4. Water Abundance and Water Scarcity
You may wish to set up a hands-on activity to introduce students to the ideas of water abundance, physical water scarcity and economic water scarcity. This link contains directions for a hands-on activity that allows students to move around the classroom and experience the water issues tangibly. While there is some preparation involved, the activity itself can be completed in 15 minutes.
> Lesson Plan: Water Water Anywhere
(from The Water Project)
5. Water Issues in the U.S.
Students should follow the same research procedures as in the main activity. Rather than creating a promotion, they can write a report on the water issues in either California or the Chesapeake Bay.
> OnEarth article, “Where Will CA Get Its Water?” (2009)
(from the Natural Resources Defense Council)
> California Department of Water Resources
(from the California Data Exchange Center)
> California’s Water Crisis
(from The Association of California Water Agencies)
View the 50minute documentary.
> “UC Tackles Water Crisis” (2009)
(from University of California Newsroom)
article, “Is Southern California Finally Starting to Get Serious about its Water Crisis?” (2011)
(from Time Magazine)
Chesapeake Bay Area:
> The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint
(from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
This site includes multiple resources on the Bay area, including the Blue Water Blueprint and current pending legislation.
> Chesapeake Bay
(from the National Wildlife Federation)
This site includes important facts about the Chesapeake Bay area, as well as current threats to the Bay.
> Chesapeake Bay Wastewater Treatment (video)
> Chesapeake Bay Foundation report, “The Economic Argument for Cleaning Up the Chesapeake Bay and its Rivers” (2012)
(from Chesapeape Bay Foundation)
article, “Clean Water Essential to Good Health” (2012)
(from the Baltimore Sun)
article, “The Biggest Problem is Animal Waste” (2012)
(from the Baltimore Sun)