This page lists all teacher notes for this lesson. Individual notes can be accessed on the main Teacher Notes page.
Introduction (15-20 minutes)
In this activity, students will complete an Anticipation Guide with some basic questions designed to stimulate their thinking about access to clean water. Before the activity begins, distribute students' Engineering Portfolios. Explain that they will use these portfolios to complete activities throughout the lesson. Students can complete the Anticipation Guide on page 1 of their Engineering Portfolios, or you may incorporate a Student Response System if your school has the equipment. You may also pre-load the questions into an online polling site, such as PollEverywhere.com , so that your entire class's data will tabulate in real time. Afterward, have students participate in a short discussion in which they explain their thinking. Some of the questions have correct answers, and some ask for students' opinions.
As an alternate activity, you could read the statements aloud and ask students to arrange themselves on a human number line to show how strongly they agree or disagree with each one.
Access to Clean Water: What Is the Problem? (45 minutes)
In this activity, students will watch a video illustrating problems people face in accessing safe drinking water. At about halfway through the video (06:30), there is a break between segments. You may wish to pause the video at this break and facilitate a brief discussion with students. Ask them if they were surprised by anything they saw. After students have watched the remainder of the video, have them discuss what they have seen, focusing on whether the people in the video have access to water that matches the goals set by the United Nations. Ask if they have ever experienced a time when they did not have access to clean water. (It may be worth comparing and contrasting access to clean water that may occur along the eastern seaboard as a result of hurricanes and other severe weather.)
Global Water Issues (45 minutes–1 hour)
In this activity, students will conduct research on global access to clean water. Before the activity begins, have students turn to the chart on pages 2–3 of their Engineering Portfolios. This chart is designed to help students keep track of their research. The chart should not be used as a fill-in-the-blank form. Rather, students should use it to begin collecting information that they determine is significant. If a space does not exist for their information, they should simply add a new row. Not every blank in the graphic organizer needs to be completed.
After students have explored the suggested websites, have them discuss what they have learned. Ask them if they have uncovered any evidence that supports or refutes the statements from the Anticipation Guide.
As an extension to this activity, have students complete the Recognizing Bias mini-lesson in the Extension activities section.
Your Challenge (15 minutes)
In this activity, students will receive the challenge that they will be working on for the remainder of the lesson. Before beginning, divide your class into STEM teams of 4-5 students each. Students will need to work in STEM teams for the remainder of the lesson. (See Appendix C for more information on forming STEM teams.)
The Engineering Design Process (30 minutes)
This activity provides an overview of the steps in the engineering design process. Have students turn to page 4 of their Engineering Portfolios before the activity begins. After students watch the videos, go over the steps in the engineering design process and make sure that students understand what each step means. Ask them to use the information they have collected and brainstorm new ideas with their team to complete step 1.
Phase 1 - Regional Information on Water Issues (1 hour)
In this activity, students will conduct research on water quality in their chosen region. Assist students as they explore resources related to water quality and prepare their brief. You may use the rubric provided to grade their work, or develop a different rubric that aligns more specifically to your goals. This scoring tool was designed using the SAT scale, 6 Traits for Writing and the Common Core Standards . The scoring tool may be used by students to check their work before submitting, for peer review or for formal assessment.
Water Quality: Possible Solutions (15-20 minutes)
In this activity, students will be asked to switch gears and take on the role of engineers in charge of designing a solution to the water quality problems they have discovered in their chosen region. They will begin by watching a slideshow that shares strategies for purifying water. Have students continue to research and take notes. If necessary, students may use the extra note-taking pages in the back of the Engineering Portfolios. The links on the next two pages will give them more background information for water purification systems.
Sample Water Purification Systems (45 minutes)
In this activity, students will examine a few methods for creating a homemade purification device. Students will not construct their solution at this point; they are simply gathering information to inform their designs.
Water Quality Resources (45 minutes)
In this activity, students will continue to explore processes for improving water quality. Have students continue to research and take notes. Explain to students that distillation is used for desalination (removing salt from water so that it can be used for drinking).
Phase 2 - Consider Constraints and Explore Possibilities (1 hour)
In this activity, students will begin brainstorming ideas for their water purification systems. Before beginning, have students turn to pages 6-8 of their Engineering Portfolios. Assist students as they explore different possibilities. There will likely be much debate as they weigh the approach they wish to use to purify their water sample.
If students wish to use filtration, this can be done fairly easily on desktops or in a lab setting. Provide students with a "dirty" water sample and allow them to choose from the variety of materials available to them to create their filtration system. Many teachers have reported success using two-liter soda bottles as filtration devices: students can cut their bottle in half, flip the top half up-side down, and place it back inside the bottom half, layering filter materials in the now-inverted top half. (For more details, see the suggested links at the bottom of the Background Information page.)
Distillation requires slightly more planning and equipment. Students could create a very simple solar still using a bowl, plastic wrap and stone—but you will need access to the outdoors and at least an hour for this to work. Indoors, a simple still could be made with a heat source, cooking pot with lid, ice and smaller heatproof container to collect the distilled water. (See the suggested links on the Background Information page for more details.)
If both distillation and filtration are feasible in your classroom, encourage students to consider both of these solutions. If distillation is not feasible in your classroom, steer students toward a filtration solution.
Finally, in order to help students select the best approach for their water purification system, let them know which contaminants will be in the "contaminated" water sample that you will provide. Consider using oil, used coffee grounds, garlic powder and salt or food coloring to make your contaminated water. Distillation will remove all of the contaminants. Only activated charcoal will remove the garlic odor and/or the food coloring if the students are using a filtration solution. Filtration will not remove the salt.
Select an Approach and Develop a Design Proposal (1 hour)
Students will continue to work on the design for their water purification system in this activity. Before students begin, have them turn to pages 9-12 of their Engineering Portfolios. Be available for questions as students continue to work in their STEM teams to develop their proposals. Students have the option of developing their technical drawing using SketchUp.com . SketchUp provides a variety of customization options. You should view tutorials in advance so that you may better assist students with the program. Review students design proposals before allowing them to move forward with the prototyping phase.
Make a Prototype and Test Your Design (1 hour)
In this activity, students will build and test their water filtration or distillation systems. Before beginning, have students turn to page 13 of their Engineering Portfolios. Provide students with the directions and materials they will need.
Below is a list of suggested materials to make available to students. You may wish to tailor this list of materials if there is a specific solution or design you would like your students to arrive at.
Plastic or glass containers (suggested: 2-liter soda bottles cut so that the top half can be inverted and placed inside the bottom half)
Activated charcoal (available at aquarium supply stores; be sure to rinse in advance)
Alum (available in the spice aisle at grocery stores)
Sand (rinsed in advance)
Cooking pot with lid
Small heatproof container
(If you are allowing students to make distillation systems, you may need additional lab materials.)
You should also have a sample of "contaminated" water for students to purify.
Pass out the materials and assist students as they build and test their water filtration or distillation systems. Give each group a sample of "contaminated" water and help them compare a sample of the original water with the water they collect after treatment. You should be able to visually compare the two samples to decide which one is cleaner.
Encourage students to compare the odor of the two samples as well.
Refine Your Design and Create Your Final System (1 hour)
In this activity, students will refine and retest their water purification systems. Have students turn to page 14 in their Engineering Portfolios. Work with groups as they figure out how to refine and retest their designs. Be sure to have additional materials and water available for students.
Communicate Your Results (1 hour)
In this activity, students will work in their STEM teams to create a multimedia presentation or video explaining the water issues at play in their chosen region and the engineering solution they have come up with to improve water quality in the area. Have students refer to pages 15-16 of their Engineering Portfolios before they begin. Work with your students as they plan for their video or multimedia presentation. Help them understand that even though the exact water purification system they developed may not work to remove all the contaminants from their region's water, they can advocate for the general approach.
Students could use school audio/video equipment, their own video cameras or the school's computer lab to create their presentations. Or, they can create virtual posters, including posters with video, at Glogster.com . (Be sure to visit the website in advance to assist students as needed.)
Note that the MIDWAY video contains some graphic images of dead and dying birds that may be difficult for sensitive viewers. Please be prepared for students’ reactions to these images.
Phase 3 - Build Your Presentation (1 hour)
In this activity, students will begin production for their presentations. Review the presentation rubric with students. Assist students as necessary with uploading information to the Glogster.com site, or preparing their videos for presentation.
Final Presentation (1 hour)
In this activity, your students will gather feedback and refine their multimedia presentations. Assist your class as they gather feedback and refine their multimedia presentations. If you wish, help them upload their presentations for public viewing on your school's website.