What is the liquid that freezes at 0° C and boils at 100° C, is tasteless and odorless when pure, falls from clouds in various forms makes up 75% of our body and covers 70% of the Earth’s surface? Water. Let me repeat the word again,
Water is the most common substance on Earth. Only 1% of the world’s water supply is available for human use. The remaining amount is salty or found in glaciers. Simply without it there would be no life. The world’s demand for water is becoming increasingly significant. Do you know that the average man consumes over 150 gallons of water per day? Whether or not you answered yes or no to this question is not relevant but what steps as educators are we going to take to create young conservationists. My plan of action is to have my students’ measure their families typical water usage in their home, graph their data and research their family behavior about the specified topic. I feel the students will gain a new perspective about water conservation that will serve as a stepping stone for future water usage because it is valuable resource that should not be wasted.
Kids Conserve… Water Preserved is an integrated, multi-sensory unit, which will incorporate the two disciplines of Science and Mathematics. The time allotted to this unit is 3 to 4 weeks. The above-referenced unit was devised to meet The New Haven Board of Education Curriculum requirements for Science and Mathematics. For Science the students are required to use and develop a critical understanding of the ecology in relation to natural resources, science and technology through personal and community health as it addresses present day and global challenges. The Math curriculum focuses on the students’ ability to demonstrate a variety of skills in order to graph data and solve a variety of numerical equations. Through interdisciplinary discussions with the Mathematics teacher I decided that the will unit would transpire during the month of October because the sixth grade Math curriculum focuses on Measurement and Graphing at that time.
This unit is designed for the population that I work with on a daily basis, which are special education students in sixth grade. My students range in disabilities from Learning Disabled to Autism. As a result I decided that a multi-sensory approach would be most suitable to meet the goals and objectives in their Individual Educational Plan. Therefore, my unit will include various lessons, which will integrate the auditory, visual and kinesthetic methodologies of learning. The lessons will be easy to execute for both the teacher and the students. The lessons will be clear and concise with minimal instructions and materials. Based on the activity if difficulty does arise modifications will be made for individual students. I have designed the lessons so that every student can meet the tasks with success while learning and having fun.
As a Special Education teacher I am faced with challenges on a daily basis. Many of my students detest Science because of all the scientific jargon. Therefore, not much effort is put into learning. As teachers we know that Science is beneficial to our well being because it encompasses many facets of our daily living such as water, ecosystems, climate and ecology. Along with Science many Mathematical concepts come into play such as measurement and estimation. Students need to acquire an understanding of how important these two disciplines are interrelated in order to survive on a daily basis whether in be in measuring an item in a recipe or taking a shower every morning. Not only can they take what they learn and use it for personal growth but also they can apply their skills on standardized tests such as the Connecticut Mastery Test, which they will take in eighth grade. It has been brought to my attention that a Science section will be added to the test. Presently the science section of the test is being piloted in New Haven Public Schools. A Mathematics section of the test is already in place. It is comprised of Estimation and Approximation, Percent, Measurement and Patterns all of which will occur during this unit.
Throughout this above-referenced unit, the students will learn to become active learners about water conservation by forming an initial understanding, developing and interpreting knowledge and demonstrating a critical stance through awareness and the beliefs systems of their household. Through inquiry-based learning the student will be the researcher asking questions (formation of the hypothesis), performing experiments, collecting data, recording observations, reading and discussing their individual outcomes. The readings that I selected for this unit are intended to give basic information about my selected topic. Also, I have chosen many sources for the students and the teachers that will enlighten their interest in other areas of water as well. As a conservationist one needs to be knowledgeable about different sub-topics within a topic.
This unit, Kids Conserve… Water Preserved is broken down into five parts. The first section will focus on conservation. The next four sections will apply the research skills through hands-on application. A PowerPoint presentation will demonstrate all four objectives highlighted above. The first objective is to focus on the terminology of water conservation. Over decades the United States has become a changing force from rural living to fast paced city life. What was once a way of live for Americans to go and get well water from their backyard has become dated. Through technology and urbanization cities and suburbs have organized a public water-supply system that provides daily water to their homes.
According to the United States Census Bureau, in 1995, the U.S. had a population of about 267 million. Of that 267 million of people 225 million received water from their local water authority. According to the Census Bureau in July of 2002, the population in the United States was estimated at 280,562,489 people and growing daily. As the population increases the demand for water grows. Although the Earth is made up of 70% of water, less than 2% is fresh water. Water is not continuously created but it is recycled. The process is called the hydrological cycle (see illustration 1). The hydrological cycle gains its energy from the heat source of the sun. Also known as the water cycle, water falls to the Earth in many forms and moves to different locations. Some of these forms include snow, rain, sleet, fog and dew all of which can be categorized as precipitation. Once one or a combination of these elements fall to the Earth’s surface it starts to melt. Some of the runoff finds it way into a body of water such as a lake, river or ocean. The other portion of the water is absorbed into the ground. This water becomes part of the groundwater supply. At that point within the cycle groundwater is relinquished back into the atmosphere through a process known as transpiration. Once this has step of the cycle has transpired then the water turns from a liquid state to a gaseous state. As a gases rise into the atmosphere clouds are formed. Without delay, the process initiates all over again.
Groundwater is a very important source for people’s daily water use. Groundwater moves continuously underground until it reaches a lake or a larger water source where it then becomes surface water. Aquifers are the storage facilities for a large portion of groundwater. An aquifer is an empty space between rocks or soil. Aquifers are the central location for wells to get water.
Presently, the average American living in the United States uses over 140 gallons of water per day. This number is by far massive. Most of us take our national water supply for granted. It is important to realize that a water shortage or drought can occur at any given moment. Many of our daily routines involve waking up, taking a shower, brushing our teeth, flushing the toilet, and washing the dishes and our clothes. Yes these items are all necessary but do we conserve the most that we can while doing these tasks? Do you ever think about the unnecessary items that we do that involve wasteful water use such as washing your car and watering the lawn? Since so much water is wasted, many scientists believe water conservation is one of the most effective ways to increase our nation’s water supply. I believe former EPA administrator, Christine Todd Whitman said it best, and “I believe water is the biggest environmental issue we face in the 21st century in terms of both quantity and quality.” In the State of Connecticut many important accomplishments have been made to improve the quality of ground and surface water. As more and more information is available to people about the quality and quantity of water, there is a growing concern about the amount of water that will be available for future use. Presently, Connecticut is in the process of creating a plan of action for a water policy that will incorporate the management of water resources. According to the Environmental Protection Agency Connecticut believes in a “water allocation methodology”. This belief system is based in the idea of equally sharing the available water between many people and industries. This creates a competition for all water recipients.
When looking at the whole scope of the water quantity, Connecticut can be classified a having a large amount of water both groundwater and surface-runoff. There is always a concern in case of a drought, for example in 1999 during the summer some local water companies had to monitor the usage of water usage due to underlying factors such as the amount of groundwater, stream flow and temperature.
This state has 5,800 miles of rivers and streams which deposit their water supply into the Long Island Sound. Statistics done by the United States Geological Survey show that public suppliers of water gives 49% out to households. Since water is inexpensive households often do think about water conservation.
According to the New Haven Water Authority in December of 2000 they serve 12 municipalities throughout the Southern portion of Connecticut. On a daily average they supplied between 55 to 90 million gallons of water a day. One of their main purposes is to help consumers become ecologically aware. Ecologically aware water use helps to decrease the need for water treatment facilities and costly water bills. Personal conservation helps preserve rivers, streams and marine life.
Water conservation has many benefits one, anyone can become a conservationist. Two, it is very cost effective. Three, it is not time consuming. The process can happen within minutes. Once we start to conserve water in our homes we can teach other people such as family members and people in the community to become active participants in the fight for future water usage. In the late 90’s the conducted a study in households in the North to determine how much water was used. After three years the study revealed that if a household had teenagers then the water use was higher in comparison to full-time workers who were adults. Additionally, a yearly total of 146,000 gallons were used in homes. The second objective is to take the information from the terminology and develop and interpret the text from personal knowledge in their homes. The students will start their research by formulating a hypothesis. They will guess how many gallons of water their household uses on a daily basis. The students will have a clear understanding of gallons because it will have been already introduced in Math class. For those students who have difficulty remembering the terminology they will be provided with the definition as well as visual aides. A gallon is a unit measurement used to quantify the capacity of a liquid. The students will be able to equate that one gallon is equal to two half-gallons, four quarts and eight cups. For further clarity the students will have visual aides such as a milk container and they will also have the opportunity to cut out paper gallons.
Upon completion of the second objective the students will start their experiment by monitoring their daily household usage of water. They will create a survey to determine the amount of water used in gallons by each family member. When measuring the students will keep a count of how many times a day an activity occurs and for how long. The students will continue their observations over a one-week period logging their data on a daily basis. After the week is up the students will compile their individual data.
Many local governments now have laws that specify that water faucets, toilets, and showers only allow a certain amount of water flow per minute. In fact, if you look real close at the head of a faucet, you might see something like “1.5 gpm,” which means that the faucet head will allow water to flow at a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute.
Lastly, the students will use the data that they gathered to state their independent variable. Within the outcome each student will determine how much water was being used (gallons) and what would it take to change the mindset of his or her family members about using water wisely? It would be interesting for the students to create an incentive program where their family members could be rewarded if their water bills decreased over time.
In order to assess the learning of my unit, I would ask each student to complete a PowerPoint Presentation. I chose this form of assessment because it serves as a tool for different learning styles. The presentation will logically organize and structure information about their family water use. Through the use of sound and graphics the students will enhance their information and demonstrate the creativity. Their classmates will be able to visually and orally respond and make a personal connection with the presentation. At a later time students can use their presentation as a resource for further studies and a stepping-stone for sharing information with their community.
As an extension to this unit, Kids Conserve….Water Preserved the students will have a field trip to a regional water authority and the local watershed. They will learn to read their water meters and local water bills.