What Is Water?
“I think water is probably an issue where we (Aboriginal community and scientific community) can find common ground for discussion…it is something we all can stand behind.” – Dr. Alexander Zehnder, Scientific Director – Water Resources – Alberta Innovates
Water is a molecule composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Water can be in three states: solid, liquid and gas. Many contaminants are often found in water. Teachers are encouraged to use Safe Drinking Water Foundation (SDWF)’s Operation Water Drop (OWD) program and/or Operation Water Pollution (OWP) program in conjunction with this lesson. Teachers can request sponsored OWD and OWP kits here: https://www.safewater.org/sponsored-kit-request-form or, if they want to be guaranteed to receive kits and receive them right away, they can purchase kits here: https://www.safewater.org/order-kits. This lesson will explain the basics of what water is, as well as its three states, and introduce contaminants that may be in water and their health effects. More information about water contamination and the health effects of water contamination can be found in SDWF’s Operation Water Health program, which can be found here: https://www.safewater.org/operation-water-health and in SDWF’s fact sheets which can be found here: https://www.safewater.org/fact-sheets. In preparation for this lesson, the teacher should try to find the water test results of the students’ community/communities online. This webpage will help you find the test results: https://www.safewater.org/operation-community-water-footprint-1/2017/1/14/how-to-find-drinking-water-quality-information. The teacher should also compare these results to the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (which can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/reports-publications/water-quality/guidelines-canadian-drinking-water-quality-summary-table.html), with a particular focus on arsenic, copper, manganese, nitrate, and sulphate. At the end, the teacher has the option to have the students do a jigsaw project in groups and/or to use an Operation Water Drop kit.
Lesson 2: What Is Water?
Grade: 6-9 (Science and Health)
Topic: What water is, water’s three states, and what contaminants can be in water and the health effects these contaminants can have.
Time: 3-5 Hours
Space requirement: Classroom
Materials: Smartboard or computer and projector, paper, pens, access to computers with Internet, a Safe Drinking Water Foundation Operation Water Drop kit and the other materials required to use the Operation Water Drop kit (water samples, markers, tape, graduated cylinder, etc.) (optional).
Objectives: Students will learn that water is a molecule composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Students will learn about water’s three states. They will also learn about contaminants that can be in water and their health effects.
Keywords: Molecules, Atoms, Solid, Liquid, Gas, Contaminants, Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, Arsenic, Copper, Manganese, Nitrate, Sulphate, Bacteria, Viruses, Protozoa, Campylobacteriosis, Campylobacter jejuni, Cholera, Vibrio cholera, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), Legionellosis, Legionella pneumophila, Shigellosis, Shigella, Coxsackie B, Hepatitis A, Cryptosporidiosis, Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardiasis, Giardia lamblia, Pesticides, Radionuclides, Asbestos, Lead
Teacher: Prepare for this lesson by finding your community’s water quality test results online, if available. If not available, you could phone your local water treatment plant and/or your provincial or territorial government’s drinking water related authorities/offices, ask for the test results, and if they are not available ask why they are not.
1. Start by asking the students what they know about water. What is water? Can water be in different states of matter? Is water pure?
2. Go over the What is Water PowerPoint with the students. On slide four, there is a link to a five-minute YouTube video about water and its three different states.
3. If available, show the students the water quality test results for their community/communities (information about how to find water quality test results can be found at https://www.safewater.org/operation-community-water-footprint-1/2017/1/14/how-to-find-drinking-water-quality-information). Discuss the results and how they compare to the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (a summary table of the guidelines can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/reports-publications/water-quality/guidelines-canadian-drinking-water-quality-summary-table.html), especially in terms of arsenic, copper, manganese, nitrate, and sulphate.
4. Have the students complete the following Jigsaw Group Activity and/or use an Operation Water Drop kit (Elementary Operation Water Drop kits are intended for students in grades 4-8 and High School Operation Water Drop kits are intended for students in grades 9-12) to test their local drinking water and other water samples.
Split the students into ten groups (this likely means that each group will have two or three members). Have each group select a different bacteria, virus, or parasite that can be in their water (Campylobacter jejuni, Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, Legionellosis, Shigellosis, Coxsackie B virus, Hepatitis A virus, Cryptosporidium parvum, and Giardia lamblia). Encourage the students to use the fact sheets found on Safe Drinking Water Foundation’s website here: https://www.safewater.org/fact-sheets as well as other sources of information (Internet, books, etc.). Encourage students to find out what the symptoms are, how long the problem lasts, how serious the problem is, how likely the bacteria/virus/parasite is to be in your drinking water, etc. Students will have one or two class periods in which to conduct their research and prepare their presentations. The next day, the groups will present their information to the class. Ask the students to take notes on the other groups’ presentations. Then (optionally) the teacher can create a test (questions could be about what the symptoms are, how long the problem lasts, how serious the problem is, etc.) and give it to the students.
Safe Drinking Water Foundation’s Operation Water Drop Kits:
If you requested a sponsored Operation Water Drop kit from Safe Drinking Water Foundation (https://www.safewater.org/sponsored-kit-request-form) and were lucky enough to receive one, or if you have purchased an Operation Water Drop kit from Safe Drinking Water Foundation, then you can use the kit with the students in order to test your local drinking water and other water samples. For more information about Safe Drinking Water Foundation’s Operation Water Drop program, please visit https://www.safewater.org/operation-water-drop.
Evaluation: Can be based on their participation in answering questions during the PowerPoint presentation and their participation during the discussion. A rubric can be used to assess the students’ presentations (see the Group Oral Presentation Rubric). If an Operation Water Drop kit is used a Student Evaluation Sheet is part of the Operation Water Drop program. If the teacher created a test about the different bacteria/viruses/parasites then it can be marked.
Arsenic Analysis for High School Operation Water Drop. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.safewater.org/operation-water-drop-listings/2016/11/23/arsenic-analysis-for-high-school-operation-water-drop
Arsenic in Drinking Water. (2006). Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/environment/arsenic-drinking-water.html
Changing water – States of matter YouTube video. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuE1LePDZ4Y
Copper Analysis for High School Operation Water Drop. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.safewater.org/operation-water-drop-listings/2016/11/19/copper-analysis-for-high-school-operation-water-drop
Fact Sheets. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.safewater.org/fact-sheets/
Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality – Summary Table. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/reports-publications/water-quality/guidelines-canadian-drinking-water-quality-summary-table.html
How to Find Drinking Water Quality Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.safewater.org/operation-community-water-footprint-1/2017/1/14/how-to-find-drinking-water-quality-information
Manganese Analysis for High School Operation Water Drop. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.safewater.org/operation-water-drop-listings/2016/11/13/manganese-analysis-for-high-school-operation-water-drop
Nitrate Analysis for High School Operation Water Drop (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.safewater.org/operation-water-drop-listings/2016/11/13/manganese-analysis-for-high-school-operation-water-drop
Operation Water Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.safewater.org/operation-water-health
Sulphate Analysis for High School Operation Water Drop (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.safewater.org/operation-water-drop-listings/2016/11/7/sulphate-analysis-for-high-school-operation-water-drop
Water – The Sacred Relationship. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sacredrelationship.ca/why-water/