Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Go Jump In The Lake!

Marla Blair
Leon County Schools


In this real-life science activity, students test local lake waters to determine overall health of the lakes. Students then hypothesize possible human impact on the indicators they are testing in the waters and share these inferences in a scientific report.


The student extends and refines knowledge of ways that human activities may deliberately or inadvertently alter the equilibrium in the ecosystem.


-Water Testing Kit (you decide which indicators you want the class to test)
-Water collection containers
-Water to test (label location water was obtained from)
-Safety Goggles
-Copies of Site Information Sheet (See Associated Files)
-Copies of data table (See Associated Files)
-Copies of Report Directions (See Associated Files)
-Copies of Analysis Worksheet (See Associated Files)
-Copies of Report Checklist (See Associated Files)
-List of normal levels of indicators
-Reference Books (water testing kit may come with information on indicators)


1. Visit local water quality monitoring site/expert-get help-there are lots of willing scientists!
2. Order Water Testing Kit.
3. Locate local maps showing bodies of water (labeled and showing size.)
4. Locate guest speaker.
5. Get a list of the normal ranges for the indicators in your area.
6. Do ALL of the indicator tests that your students will do.
7. Read over ALL MSDS sheets.
8. Copy student worksheets: (See Associated Files)
-Site Information Sheet
-Data Table
-Analysis Questions
-Instructions for Report
-Checklist for Report


Prerequisite Skills:
Students need to have an understanding of:
- What scientists use to determine the quality of lake water?
- What are the indicators to be tested (dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphates, etc)?
- How are the indicators measured? (parts per million/parts per billion)
- What is the difference between a point and non-point source?
- What is the effect of varying levels of indicators on water quality and inhabitants of the body of water?
- Any pertinent local information (normal levels of indicators, watersheds and local topography, pollution sources, water cycle)

1. Explain to students that they will be researching the health of local lakes. Emphasize to students that our freshwater resources are monitored by local scientists on a regular basis to protect wildlife and people and to preserve these natural areas. In our activities, we will be using many of the same techniques and testing materials that these scientists use in their studies. Discuss uses (recreational, industrial, etc.) of local lakes, rivers, streams, etc.

2. Review indicators students will be testing.

3. Put students into small groups and assign indicator they will become “experts” at testing.

4. Instruct students on safety issues and procedure for testing (do demonstration if necessary). Be sure that you have done the tests so that you are familiar with ALL of them! Include clean up and chemical disposal instructions. Make sure that you review MSDS sheets prior to student use.

5. Give group their testing equipment and practice water (any sample will do).

6. Allow groups time to practice using the equipment and testing methods.

7. Visit testing sites-have students complete Site Information Sheet (See Associated Files).

8. Collect lake water at site(s) or bring in water from local lakes to test.

9. Review Step #2 from above. Emphasize safety!

10. Groups test water samples (either on site or in classroom).

11. Groups report back to class with their data. Class will record all data on all indicators on data tables (See Associated Files).

12. Give students Analysis Questions worksheet (See Associated Files).

13. Group gets back together to analyze data (or you can assign new groups for new perspective). This is a great time to bring in an expert to help analyze data!

14. Students will answer analysis questions as they discuss results.

15. As groups are working, circulate and discuss analysis with each group to guide them.

16. Discuss results of analysis as a group.

17. Give students Report Directions (See Associated Files) and discuss.

18. Students will prepare reports individually. (Depending on time available, this could be done at home or in class)


Students demonstrate their understanding of ways that human activities may deliberately or inadvertently alter the equilibrium in the ecosystem by preparing a scientific report. The report will contain the need for clean lakes for human/animal use, description of scientific method used, determination of health of lake(s), analysis of data and inferences of possible human impact. Feedback will be given to the student using a checklist. This report will be scored using a checklist. Critical thinking process skills will also be evaluated in the report.


-Use local experts as guest speakers to cover local topography, pollution sources, local environmental issues, and analysis of data.
-Visit sites multiple times to determine trends in any indicators.
-Track data year to year to give students a history.
-Explore flora and fauna at testing sites.
-Use freshwater invertebrates to test effects of pollutants on these animals in classroom. (great to incorporate scientific method benchmarks)

Attached Files

Site Information Sheet     File Extension: pdf

Data Tables     File Extension: pdf

Analysis Questions     File Extension: pdf

Report Directions     File Extension: pdf

Report Checklist     File Extension: pdf

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