Lesson 7: How Water Pollution is Cleaned Up

Grade 5-8 (Science and Social studies)
Grade 9-12 (Science and Social studies)

Topic: Cleaning up polluted water

Time: 60 minutes

Space Requirement: Regular classroom

Methodology: PowerPoint presentation, debriefing session

Materials: Computer and projector for power point presentation

Objectives: Students will discuss the process of cleaning polluted water in terms of filtration. Students will also look more closely at other types of water clean up such as air stripping, bioremediation, and phytoremediation.


  1. Debrief the activity from Lesson 6. (10-15 min)
    a. Look carefully at the unfair division of money, sabotage, what the developing countries had to do to get the water filters.
    b. Identify potential problems associated with poor filtration.
  2. Ask the students if filtering is enough. (10 min)
    a. Will just filtering water get everything out?
    b. Does adding bleach make water safe to drink?
    c. Does either of these steps address the real problem (pollution)?
  3. Play the PowerPoint presentation on how water pollution is cleaned up. (20 min)
  4. As a class discuss alternative ways to clean up polluted water such as tougher legislation, large fines, zero tolerance for polluters, education. (15 min)
  5. Assign a short writing assignment to the students. This assignment is to be their homework. They must complete the following sentence “If I had the power to change how water pollution is dealt with I would…”. Students must limit their answer to 1 page and the assignment is to be handed in the following day.
  6. Remind the students to fill in their water bottle charts.

Evaluation: The writing assignment is to be used as an evaluation of the depth of understanding the students have regarding the seriousness of water pollution and the importance of cleaning up water for future generations.

For the Teacher: The goal for this lesson is to awaken students to the need for change in terms of how water pollution is handled. The picture sources for the power point can be found through the Picture Source link.

Related Links: Reversing the Effects of Pollution

Resources: The PowerPoint for this lesson is available through the Clean Up link.

Extension Activity: The Safe Drinking Water Foundation has other educational programs that can be taught with this set of lessons. Operation Water Drop looks at what chemical contaminants there are in water and is designed for a science class. Operation Water Flow looks at how water is used and where it comes from and is designed for a Social studies and Math collaboration. Operation Water Spirit presents a First Nations perspective of water and water issues and is designed for a Native Studies class. Operation Water Health looks at common health issues surrounding drinking water in Canada and around the world and is designed for a Health, Science and Social Studies collaboration. To access more information on these and other educational activities visit the Safe Drinking Water Foundation website at www.safewater.org.