The story of a river
This activity demonstrates the possible consequences of human impact upon a catchment.
Science and Society
3.3 Students make predictions about the immediate impact of some applications of science on their community and environment, and consider possible pollution and public health effects.
Earth and Beyond
3.3 Students collect information that describes ways in which living things use the Earth and the sun as resources.
Life and Living
3.3 Students describe some interactions (including feeding relationships) between living things and between living and non-living parts of the environment.
Place and Space
PS 3.5 Students describe the values underlying personal and others actions regarding familiar places.
- Resource sheet 18 - The story of a river (PDF, 143K)*
In this activity, students can see the accumulated effects of various land uses on a river. As the story is read, students pour the contents of film canisters into a clear container filled with water. There are 16 land uses identified in the activity. This number can be adapted to suit the number of students in the class, e.g. each land use could be assigned to two students, some uses could be omitted or more than one allocated per student to cater for the size of the group. (Some land uses could be omitted if they are not relevant to a particular catchment.)
The title of the river in the story has been left open so that you may include the name of the local river, which runs through your catchment, if you wish. The story can be adapted to include issues relevant to your local catchment.
Time: 30 minutes
Introduce the activity by discussing the idea that despite the fact that Australia is the driest inhabited continent and water is very precious, many environments are under threat of pollution from human actions. Everyone lives in a catchment and contributes directly or indirectly, significantly or not so significantly to the degradation of our waterways, often without realising the impacts that humans make.
Display or distribute Resource Sheet 18. Read through the story before adding the substances to the clean water. Reading of the story may be done individually, in groups or as a whole class.
Seat students around the clear water-filled container. Organise the distribution of the labelled film canisters representing various land uses.
As the story is read, stop when a character/land use is mentioned so students can pour the contents of their canister into the water on cue.
After the story has been read, discuss student’s initial responses to the story. Some guide questions could include:
- How did you feel about the change in the colour and look of the "river"?
- How would you feel about drinking or swimming in this water?
- Why was the water so different in appearance at the end of the story?
- Do you think this is like the real situation? Is this how pollution might occur in our river?
- Discuss how the students would feel if pollution of their local waterway/catchment occurred. Ask students to suggest action they could undertake if this happened.
- Ask student what would motivate them to undertake their suggested action.
Students could investigate the law relating to disposal of industrial, toxic, municipal waste.
Gathering information about student learning
Sources of information could include:
- anecdotal notes on student participation in the activity.
* Requires Adobe Reader
Last updated 3 September 2010