Deadly Water


Students studied the impacts that chemical pollution is having or will have on the Great Lakes, groundwater, Lake Michigan, Grand Traverse Bay, and Kids Creek. Students also studied the impact prescription drugs are having on the Great Lakes on a particle level, or how household products are infiltrating groundwater on a particle level.

Content Standards

Science: Develop an understanding of the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures. Describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved. Finally, students will also gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society. 

ELA: Students will write and produce a marketing plan to advocate on behalf of the environment and our drinking water supply. They will use persuasive and informative writing techniques to accomplish this. In addition, students will use research techniques to gather information from relevant sources. 

Math: Students will learn about the slopes of lines by measuring volumes and masses of different water samples and calculating their densities.  They will use slopes of lines to explore equivalent fractions, and they will learn the effect that the properties of a line have on its equation.  They will also learn to use scientific notation to compare extremely large and extremely small numbers by exploring a shark's sense of smell.  



Community Connections

Jack Nowland from SOS Analytic

Peter Lepczyk, senior hydrogeologist, from FTC&H

TC Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant


In teams, students created a variety of marketing campaign approaches such as websites, flyers, brochures, t-shirts, and social media postings to educate the public on the various pollutants that impact our water. 


"We're going where?" This, or some version of it, was a popular question the day before our field trip. Our project, Deadly Water, was set to kick off at the Traverse City Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. There really was no better place for it. The kickoff challenged students right away to consider how their lives and the decisions they make on a daily basis can have an effect on the greater watershed. Taking tours through the facility with knowledgable experts helped students approach this project with the seriousness it deserved. And perhaps, the uncomfortable nature of being in a wastewater plant helped prepare students to deal with the uncomfortable truth of looking reflectively at their own daily decisions concerning water quality.


Over the next several weeks, students diligently studied how many of these common chemicals can have a pretty dramatic impact on the greater ecosystem. The task became harder still when they realized that it wasn't enough to just learn about the dangers posed; they must help others to understand the impact we have as a society as well. My favorite moments from this project came from watching students come to the realization that their projects could be as real as they wanted. Students began calling businesses to inquire about their microplastic usage, both local and global organizations. Students designed t-shirts, social media campaigns, and many other types of advertising to help protect our waters. As an educator, I could hardly have been prouder.                                                     -Phil, ELA and Stewardship Teacher


When I learned that we would be learning about deadly water I was a bit skeptical about how entertaining the project would be. But when we started, I realized how interesting this project was. It was intriguing to learn how we were harming our water when we didn’t even realize it. When I saw all of the animals and life that had been destroyed it made me sickened. It was a wonderful thing to learn. It was amazing to create a project that could change people. Instead of just handing in a paper never to be seen again, we were making something that could be seen by people around the globe and could possibly persuade them to act. This project showed me how making a difference isn’t so hard.                                                         -Sam, 7th-grade student


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