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Slippery Sleuths

Secondary

Description

Students explore water quality concepts and inference in this lesson. They discuss common ways to describe, measure, or estimate water quality and the importance of water quality to the organisms that live in lakes or streams.

First, students play a game using aquatic invertebrate cards. The game describes a method for using aquatic insects to infer the water quality of a stream or lake. The types of aquatic invertebrates living in a particular habitat can tell a scientist a lot about that habitat, for example: is the water fast or slow? Clean or polluted?

Next, students use a standard chemical water quality test for nitrogen and measure turbidity of a water sample. The closing discussion brings together the ecological ideas in previous lessons by considering classification of invertebrates, food webs, decomposition, and habitat quality in aquatic ecosystems.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students will be able to

  • describe how adaptations of aquatic invertebrates are clues to the condition of the habitat in which they are found.
  • describe methods for measuring turbidity and nitrogen.
  • explain how human activities affect water quality and aquatic organisms

Strengths

This is a very effective case study in teaching students how to carry out a field study. Step-by-step instructions and the supporting handouts are provided and students will respond to the hands-on nature of the activity. 

The activity will also strengthen student's generic abilities to gather and analyze data in order to answer focused questions.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The lesson plan may support the teaching of those units of study that explore

  • biodiversity
  • ecosystems
  • aquatic pollution

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 9
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Environmental Investigations
      • Science
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        • Biological Diversity
    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
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        • Biology 20: Ecosystems and Population Change
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      • Science
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        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 11
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science 11: Complex roles and relationships contribute to diversity of ecosystems
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        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Human actions affect the quality of water and its ability to sustain life.
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        • Senior 2 Science: Dynamics of Ecosystems
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        • Biology 11: Biodiversity
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        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
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        • Biology 2201: Biodiversity
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        • Environmental Science 3205: Water Use & the Environment
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        • World Geography 3200/3202: Ecosystems
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        • Experiential Science 30, Freshwater Systems:Freshwater Ecology
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        • Biology 11: Biodiversity
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        • Biological Diversity
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        • Experiential Science 30, Freshwater Systems:Freshwater Ecology
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    • Grade 9
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        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Geographic Inquiry and Skill Development
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        • Biology 11(Univer.Prep.) Diversity of Living Things
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        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep) : Ecological Systems: Interactions and Interdependence
  • Prince Edward Island
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        • Science 431A: Life Science, Sustainability of Ecosystems
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        • Biology 521A: Biodiversity
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        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
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        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Living World
        • Science and the Environment: The Living World
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        • Environmental Science 20: Aquatic Systems
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    • Grade 11
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      • Science
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        • Science for Citizens 11:Scientific processes and knowledge inform our decisions and impact our daily lives

Themes Addressed

  • Water (2)

    • Water Quality
    • Watershed Protection