Student: Why are there even environmental engineers Mrs. Brinza?
Mrs. Brinza: I'm not sure. Why do YOU think there are?
Student: The environment must be pretty important?
Mrs. Brinza: Great question!
As a way to showcase fourth graders' solutions to the problem in Greentown, they worked hard to identify realistic solutions to such serious problems in the pond and the garden. Whether the solution was to develop a technology to clean the pollution, to hold a community meeting to discuss future options, or educate the community with signs, fourth graders created comic strips (or a small graphic novel) to tell their story. Check out some of the examples provided here!
Fourth graders were asked to design a solution to the problem in Greentown. Some of the answers could possibly happen, and were therefore classified as realistic. Some of their solutions, after some in-depth discussion, were deemed unrealistic or unable to happen. Students had the chance to argue their viewpoints and come to a group consensus as to which solutions were realistic and those that were not!
Realistic solution: Develop a technology to clean up the pollution in the pond.
Unrealistic solution: Move the pond to a new location.
Now that we've completed our pH tests on various sites throughout Greentown, we're seeing that some sites' pH results don't quite look the same. How is it that one location, which may be far away from another site, be a possible polluter?
Mrs. Brinza set up a demonstration to show how liquid pollution responds to a rain storm. Using blue food coloring as a model for pollution, she placed some food coloring on top of the sand to mimic someone dumping harmful chemicals into the ground. With a water bottle "rain storm" about to come, fourth graders gathered evidence for what can happen to pollution underground. Check out the pictures below to show how pollution can spread.
Mayor Higgins has recently contacted the fourth graders to help with a problem in his community of Greentown. He notices changes in the ecosystem which include plants and animals such as frogs dying. While his community could have many culprits, he decides to gather some evidence! In fact, he has pH results from 3 years ago that can help. The pH data comes from both water and soil-based sites. Comparing the pH data from 3 years ago to today's pH data will allow us to see any possible differences and lead us to the possible cause of the pollution. Can the fourth graders help Mayor Higgins figure out who caused the pollution? I surely hope so!
Fourth graders are learning about pH as a way to measure a change in an ecosystem's soil or water. In order to do this, they are first testing various substances' pH levels, things like water, window cleaner, and lemon juice. They use pH paper as an indicator and compare it to a chart that identifies the substance as an acid, base, or neutral. They all practiced safe science, too, wearing their goggles to protect their eyes! Great job fourth grade!
Fourth graders started class today with a great discussion about how we can determine if the environment has been polluted. Most students said that they could SEE the pollution--like exhaust coming from a tailpipe, oil floating on a river, or trash scattered across the street.
But not all pollution is obvious. Sometimes, it remains hidden for us to uncover. A simple test scientists use to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a material is a pH test. In fourth grade, we are learning about how pH can show us if a change has occurred. For example, water that used to measure a pH of 7 may change into a pH of 12. This means something must have changed the pH of the water. Over the next couple weeks, we'll be looking at how one particular community must solve a mystery as to who polluted the community! We'll be testing water and soil samples...and that means we will be practicing safe science, too. Get those goggles on!
Now that we're nearly at the end of Tehya's Pollution Solution, we've discovered the problem in our story. Tehya has spotted something very unfamiliar and new glistening in the sun. Whatever it is, it didn't use to be there, and her grandmother's journal reveal that to be true. Tehya asks a slue of questions about this mystery substance. Can she clean it up? How will it affect the ecosystem? How fast does she need to act?
Check out these fourth graders' diagrams of the problem!