You Need to Make a Decision (Grades 11 and 12)

Subject: Biology

Topic: Water pollution, bottled water, water filtration, and pesticides.

Time Frame: This is a research project. The time frame will depend on how extensive you want the finals reports to be.

Objectives: The students will be able to research topics of concern in their own communities. They will be able to gather and interpret information, for the purpose of presenting it to the rest of the class, as well as maybe some community members.

Methodology: Independent Learning, Presentation


  • Computers and library for research
  • Poster paper and other materials for presentations

Space Requirements: No special space requirements are required for this lesson, unless the presentations are made for more than the students in the class.


  1. Present the list of possible topics to the students. Encourage them to come up with other topics of their own that relate to water quality and conservation in their community.
  2. Divide the class into partners or groups and have each team choose one topic, or come up with their own. This will ensure that the whole class will learn about all of the topics. Topics can only be chosen by one team (no duplication).
  3. Have the students conduct whatever research necessary in order to answer all of the questions. They should be encouraged to go out into the community to conduct interviews and pick up information that is available to them.
  4. Give the students a deadline and explain that the information they find will have to be presented to the class in a way that is informative and creative.
  5. Have the students take notes from their peers about each of the topics.

Evaluation: The presentations should be evaluated (a short checklist is provided), and the information that has been presented could be tested on a unit exam.

Branca, Barbara. Exploring Environmental Issues. Glencoe, New York. , 1994. Johnson, George and Gary Brusca. Holt Biology Visualizing Life. Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1994.

Possible Research Topics

  1. A significant source of water pollution is the solid and chemical wastes that are produced by industry and then dumped into the nearest body of water. Suppose you are on the local city council, and industrial developers seek to locate a factory near our water supply. What questions would you ask when the city council met with the developers? How would you use the answers and the data you have collected to justify a position for or against the location? Discuss this issue with a council member in our community and report your findings.
  2. Pollution can come from many sources including industrial, residential, agricultural, or recreational sources. What sources of pollution in our area can affect our local water supply? What can we do to raise public awareness about this issue?
  3. The sales of bottled water in this country have skyrocketed over the past decade. Should we be drinking bottled water? Check the labels on water bottles at the supermarket. Bottled water has less regulation than the public water supply and may even come from tap water someplace else. What is the difference between purified, distilled and spring water? Do you suppose all these "bottled waters" taste the same? Perform a survey or test to determine if people can taste a difference between bottled and tap water in our community.
  4. Should people filter the water that comes into their homes or businesses? Should the water be filtered coming into our school? Some methods of home treatment include carbon filters, reverse osmosis, distillation, chlorination, and water softeners. Find out more about how these methods work and what contaminants they eliminate.
  5. We live in an area where people value having a beautiful green lawn. In areas of periodic drought, lawns require a great deal of water. Because we have sufficient rainfall, some people use abundant amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to kill real or imagined pests, such as grubs and crabgrass. These chemicals seep into the groundwater. Should we allow people to continue using these chemicals? What are alternative ways to get rid of the pests?
  6. How has water pollution affected the recreational use of waterways in our area? Reverse the question- How has recreational use been the cause of any water pollution? What can we do in our everyday lives to reduce either of these problems?