Thinking and Drinking Critically: A Unit on New York City’s Water Quality
The Flint, Michigan water crisis drew national attention to the effects of unsafe drinking water and issues of equity and social justice. It also opened up opportunities for engaging in socio-scientific issues in the science classroom (Ewing and Sadler 2020). Students consume hundreds of gallons of water daily, but do they know where their drinking water comes from and if it’s always safe to drink? A three-dimensional unit designed for upper elementary students (in this case, fourth graders) helps students answer these questions. Students follow the incredible journey of New York City’s water, develop an understanding of the relationship between drinking water contamination and pH, design a water filter, make connections between water quality and social justice, and use system models to illustrate the causes and effects of lead contamination in drinking water.
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