Students begin by watching a video that explains what a watershed is. They learn about different types of pollution or impairments that impact the watershed and how these impairments enter the watershed. After watching the video, students are asked a series of comprehension questions and asked to locate their own school and its corresponding watershed. Next students are asked about what types of pollutants (impairments) are unhealthy or damaging to the watershed. After students list several possibilities, focus is placed on four important impairments are identified: (1) fertilizer (nutrients) from urban/suburban areas; (2) fertilizer (nutrients) from rural/agricultural area; (3) sediment; and (4) E. coli. Students are divided into teams of four, given access to several water quality brochures from various organizations to use as a reference, and asked four core questions related to each impairment:
- Define the Impairment
- Why is their impairment harmful?
- Possible local cause of such an impairment
- What kind of community action or local project could help reduce this impairment?
After sharing out answers with other teams, students are asked to consider these same questions for a new impairment: trash in the waterways. After discussing these answers, students are introduced to Illinois Waterway Cleanup Week as a method of taking action to improve conditions in their own communities.