Teaching Resources

Teaching environmental issues in your classroom is a critical component of providing your students a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience. Discover a wealth Chesapeake Bay related books, multimedia, curriculum guides, individual lesson plans and online data sources.

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Resources > water quality  
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What Affects Dead Zones Activity

Students will explore scenarios in real datasets to investigate how physics and biology interact to produce Dead Zones of various sizes and durations. Further questioning will challenge students to apply their new knowledge of Dead Zones to real life questions.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, habitat and niche, water quality, dissolved oxygen

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The Water Sourcebook: Grade Level 3-5

This environmental education program from the US EPA explains the water management cycle using a balanced approach showing how it affects all aspects of the environment.All activities contain hands-on investigations, fact sheets, reference materials, and a glossary of terms. Activities are organized by objectives, materials needed, background information, advance preparation, procedures, and resources. This resource is divided into five chapters: Introduction to Water, Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment, Surface Water Resources, Ground Water Resources, and Wetlands and Coastal Waters.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science, Social Studies
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities
Level(s): Elementary School
Keywords: pollution, water cycle and movement, acid rain, wetland, land use, watershed, water quality, Drinking Water

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Sea Grasses - The Importance of Light Lesson

This activity will show students the importance of light availability in seagrass health. Students will learn about the things that can prevent seagrass from receiving light, including suspended sediments and chemicals.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: aquatic grass SAV, water quality

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Life Science Module 1: Survival in an Estuary

In this activity, students investigate the range of conditions that selected animal and plant species need tosurvive in an estuary. They examine data for abiotic factors that affect life in estuaries—salinity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH. Students use archived data (trend analysis graphs) and real-time conditions at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) to predict whether a particular animal or plant species could survive in an estuary.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: ecosystem and biomes, water quality, salinity, dissolved oxygen

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Turning the Tide on Trash: A Learning Guide on Marine Debris

Educators, parents, students, and researchers can use NOAA's “Turning the Tide on Trash” as they explore the serious impacts marine debris can have on wildlife, the environment, our well being, and our economy. This interdisciplinary guide can be used as a stand-alone teaching tool, or individual activities within the guide may be used to supplement work in other subject areas. Students searching for science fair projects can also adapt some of these lessons into research projects.

Subject(s): Art, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies
Type(s): Curriculum Guide
Level(s): Elementary School, Middle School, High School
Keywords: litter, trash and recycling, restoration, water quality, wildlife, tides

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Love Your Stream Poster

The "Love Your Stream" poster features illustrations of the top ten clean water practices for kids. Scroll to bottom of the page.

Subject(s): Art, Science
Type(s): Posters and Maps
Level(s): Early Learning, High School
Keywords: water and energy conservation, green development, restoration, stream study, water quality

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Dead Zones and Coastal Eutrophication PowerPoint Presentation

This PowerPoint presentation discusses the causes and consequences of dead zones.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Multimedia
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, land use, development, habitat and niche, water quality, fish, dissolved oxygen

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Dead Zone Model Activity

Students will understand the biological processes associated with dead zones, as well as how human activities impact the severity of dead zones. Students will also collect and plot data and use scientific equipment. Students add fertilizer to pond, river, or estuary water and compare to a control treatment to simulate how algal blooms and dead zones occur in bodies of water.

Subject(s): Mathematics
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, experiments and investigations, water quality, water testing, dissolved oxygen

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Chlorophyll A Database

This NOAA website contains maps of chlorophyll a levels in the Bay for each month from 2005-2008.

Subject(s): Science, Technology
Type(s): Data
Level(s): High School
Keywords: water quality, water testing

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Chesapeake Exploration

NOAA’s Chesapeake Exploration is a new and innovative collection of online activities for middle and high school students that brings the science of the Chesapeake Bay to life. Chesapeake Exploration gives teachers and their students unprecedented access to lessons designed around real-time observational data from the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System. Inside a virtual classroom, Chesapeake Exploration guides students through an engaging investigative process that explores natural and human systems and cycles and the ways in which they interact throughout the Bay and its watershed. Teachers can create a unique online environment for their classrooms, including locking parameters such as date/time so all students use the same data sets and storing student answers online for easy grading. Using Chesapeake Exploration, students can (1) Query observational platforms throughout the Bay from their classroom or home; (2)Use National Geographic's Fieldscope to investigate the natural and human systems in the Bay's watershed and answer geospatial questions; and (3) Populate "dynamic worksheets" that ask them to think through scientific principles related to water quality and weather phenomena using current observation data.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Technology
Type(s): Lessons and Activities, Data, Posters and Maps
Level(s): Middle School, High School
Keywords: weather, watershed, stormwater, habitat and niche, water quality, water testing, salinity, fish, Geography, Temperature

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Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) - Investigations

Scientists measure Bay water temperatures, turbidity (clearness of the water), and other "indicators" to monitor the health of the Chesapeake Bay. "Indicators" give us information about the quality of Bay waters. If you have ever wondered how muddy waters impact underwater plants in the Chesapeake, or how steamy summer temperatures affect water quality, explore the interactive investigations provided on this NOAA website. These short activities use real-time and stored data from the CBIBS to help you answer these and other water quality questions.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Technology
Type(s): Multimedia, Data
Level(s): Elementary School, Middle School, High School
Keywords: weather, water quality

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Biofilms and Biodiversity Lesson

Students will gain an understanding of the term biodiversity by investigating some samples of biofouling communities collected from the Inner Harbor water of the Chesapeake Bay. Identify some Chesapeake Bay macroinvertebrates. Perform a biodiversity index to estimate the diversity of the biofouling community. Increase their awareness of the scientific research being performed to better understand biofilm interactions with biofouling communities.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): Middle School, High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): Maryland
Keywords: biodiversity, stream study, water quality, wildlife

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Catch A Wave Curriculum Guide

Catch A Wave uses online real time data to guide student discovery of the causes and effects of ocean waves and tides. The Earth's oceans are in constant motion and through this project, students will discover the causes and effects of the movement of the water on the shoreline and humans. Students will use real time and archived data from the internet and monitor water height all over the country. Students are challenged to think critically and creatively about the effects of ocean waves and tides.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Data
Level(s): Middle School, High School
Keywords: water quality, water testing

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Online Presentations on Water Resources

The Multimedia Learning Objects are a series of 15 interactive multimedia presentations and learning activities that address topics ranging from Chemosynthesis and Hydrothermal Vent Life and Deep-sea Benthos to Food, Water and Medicine from the Sea.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Multimedia
Level(s): High School
Keywords: wetland, watershed, water quality

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Surface Water Sourcebook

The Water Sourcebooks contain 324 activities for grades K-12 divided into four sections: K-2, 3-5, 5-8, and 9-12. Each section is divided into five chapters: Introduction to Water, Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment, Surface Water Resources, Ground Water Resources, and Wetlands and Coastal Waters. This environmental education program explains the water management cycle using a balanced approach showing how it affects all aspects of the environment.All activities contain hands-on investigations, fact sheets, reference materials, and a glossary of terms. Activities are organized by objectives, materials needed, background information, advance preparation, procedures, and resources.

Subject(s): Art, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies
Type(s): Curriculum Guide
Level(s): Elementary School, Middle School, High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, water cycle and movement, wetland, watershed, stormwater, green development, habitat and niche, water quality, water testing, Drinking Water

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Eyes on the Bay Curriculum

These resources and lesson plans were developed to support science and environmental studies educators in integrating these topics within the regular curriculum when studying Maryland's Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Bays. The goal is to integrate student learning of science concepts with the use of technology and current scientific data. In this lesson series, the Eyes on the Bay website is used to gather information and interpret data. Each lesson can be used individually or as a complete package to teach water quality concepts. Educators may adapt any of the lessons to meet their specific needs. Lessons focus on salinity, dissolved oxygen, and harmful algal blooms and are aligned to Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum (Grades 6-8 & Grades 9-12).

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Data
Level(s): Middle School, High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): Maryland
Keywords: experiments and investigations, water quality, water testing, salinity, fish, dissolved oxygen, Geography, Temperature, Nutrients and Eutorphication

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Earth Science Module 3: Estuary & the Watershed

In this activity, students investigate the nature of watersheds and their relationship to the dynamic changes that occur in estuaries due to drainage and runoff. Students begin by examining the San Francisco Bay Estuarine Research Reserve and tracing the extent of the watershed using Google Earth. Then they identify possible sources of pollution and contamination along the major rivers that feed into the bay. Students also examine water quality data in the San Pablo region of the estuary and identify changes that occur due to a storm event. This activity has 4 parts: (1) Exploring the San Francisco Watershed; (2) What’s Upstream Comes Downstream; (3) Water Quality at the Mouth of a Watershed; and (4) Optional Extension: Mapping Your Local Watershed

Subject(s): Science, Technology
Type(s): Lessons and Activities, Data, Posters and Maps
Level(s): High School
Keywords: pollution, watershed, stormwater, water quality

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Physical Science Module 3: Human Impacts on Estuaries

In this activity, students make a model of a pollution spill that occurred at Bangs Lake, a tidal lake within the Grand Bay NERR in Mississippi, in April 2005, and measure water quality parameters in their model. Students then study the actual spill, analyzing various forms of data to determine the date of the spill and identify how the spill changed water quality parameters in the estuary during and after the spill. They speculate on how various life forms in the estuary were affected. Finally, students produce a timeline of the spill event with recommendations to the state Department of Environmental Quality about how to prevent large-scale pollution spills like this in the future.

Subject(s): Language Arts, Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, water quality, student action

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Physical Science Module 2: Dissolved Oxygen in the Estuary

In this activity, students (grades 9-12) learn about dissolved oxygen(DO) and its effects on life, with a focus on the chemistry. First, they are introduced to, and analyze data gathered from, water quality sensors in Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), observing how DO and chlorophyll-a change from the surface to the bottom and considering the relationships between DO and temperature. Then, in the unique environment of Azevedo Pond in the Elkhorn Slough NERR, CA, they analyze DO data and speculate about how hydrodynamics, abiotic factors, and biological processes cause extreme fluctuations in DO in the pond.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: watershed, aquatic grass SAV, water quality, water testing, dissolved oxygen

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Physical Science Module 1: Chemistry in an Estuary

In this activity, students (grades 9-12)investigate water quality parameters to study the nature of, and the cyclical changes inherent in, the chemistry of estuarine water. Students study key water quality factors at several stations in a single reserve over time — current, daily, and yearly time scales. Students also compare water quality values over a yearly time scale in three different estuaries within NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR) —South Slough NERR, Oregon; Delaware NERR; and Old Woman Creek NERR, Ohio. Then students take water quality measurements at a site near them and compare their data to the water in the three geographically diverse NERR estuarine environments.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities, Data
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: watershed, water quality, water testing, salinity, dissolved oxygen

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Earth Science Module 4: Extreme Weather and Estuaries

Students investigate how hurricanes can affect NERRS estuaries. Students begin by studying the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCNERR) in the Cape Fear area with Google Earth and predict which areas of the reserve might be more vulnerable to the onslaught of high winds, heavy rain and storm surge than others. Then students monitor and interpret the changes in water quality factors day by day as a severe storm approaches, strikes the estuary, and then dissipates.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: weather, watershed, water quality

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Life Science Module 2: Nutrients in an Estuary

In this activity, students model estuaries, artificially enriching both fresh and salt water samples with different amounts of nutrients and observing the growth of algae over a several weeks. They relate their results to the phenomenon of algae blooms in estuaries. They then analyze data for different sites at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve(GTMNERR) in Florida to discover the relationships between nitrogen, chlorophyll, and dissolved oxygen. Finally, they study how nutrients cycle through an estuary and suggest recommendations for reducing nutrient inputs to estuary waters.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: nitrogen and carbon cycle, pollution, point source, non-point source, photosynthesis, development, stormwater, water quality, dissolved oxygen, Nutrients and Eutorphication

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Algae Boom and Bust Lesson

Climate change and increasing water temperatures, along with added nutrients from human activities, impact both aquatic ecosystems and the people who depend on them. In this experiment-based lesson, students examine one outcome — algae blooms. Key concepts students will learn include (1) Human activities often have unintended consequences. (2) Algae are simple, green aquatic plants that are the basis of many food chains. (3) An increase in water temperature and nutrients can cause algae populations to proliferate rapidly in “blooms,” which threaten the health of ecosystems. (4) The changing global climate is affecting the frequency and location of algae blooms.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): Middle School, High School
Keywords: experiments and investigations, water quality, Temperature, Nutrients and Eutorphication

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The Water Sourcebook: Grade Level 9-12

This environmental education program from the US EPA explains the water management cycle using a balanced approach showing how it affects all aspects of the environment.All activities contain hands-on investigations, fact sheets, reference materials, and a glossary of terms. Activities are organized by objectives, materials needed, background information, advance preparation, procedures, and resources. This resource is divided into five chapters: Introduction to Water, Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment, Surface Water Resources, Ground Water Resources, and Wetlands and Coastal Waters.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science, Social Studies
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Keywords: water cycle and movement, acid rain, watershed, water and energy conservation, water quality, Drinking Water

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The Water Sourcebook: Grade Level 6-8

This environmental education program from the US EPA explains the water management cycle using a balanced approach showing how it affects all aspects of the environment.All activities contain hands-on investigations, fact sheets, reference materials, and a glossary of terms. Activities are organized by objectives, materials needed, background information, advance preparation, procedures, and resources. This resource is divided into five chapters: Introduction to Water, Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment, Surface Water Resources, Ground Water Resources, and Wetlands and Coastal Waters.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science, Social Studies
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities
Level(s): Middle School
Keywords: pollution, water cycle and movement, acid rain, wetland, watershed, stormwater, water and energy conservation, water quality, Geography, Drinking Water

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