- Candy (we used Skittles)
- Plastic sandwich bags
- Graph paper
- Colored pencils or crayons
Divide the candy into sandwich bags so that the assortment of candy represents a particular land use (see graph below).
- PURPLE = Sediment
- RED = Pesticides
- GREEN = Fertilizers
- YELLOW = Oil and Gas
- ORANGE = Toxic Waste
For example, fertilizer may be one pollutant that comes from an agricultural field. Fertilizers are used to help plants grow. They can be beneficial by providing plants we like to eat get the nutrients they need to grow. Excess of these nutrients in streams and rivers can be harmful. They can cause excessive plant growth and when these plants die more oxygen may be used than can be replaced. Without enough oxygen fish and water bugs will die. Also, certain types of microscopic algae can be toxic if they reach high concentrations. Animals like dogs or livestock that drink from this toxic water can become sick or die.
Analyze the "water sample" with each kid. Ask them where they think each sample came from and how they came to that conclusion. Discuss how to reduce pollution as a community and in your own home. Here are some tips:
In the community:
- Encourage friends and neighbors to recycle
- Plan a science fair project about water quality and reducing pollution
- Pick up trash in your neighborhood
- Fix leaky cars
- Use less fertilizers and pesticides
- Recycle items at home
- Do not dump oil, gas, or other pollutants in the storm drains
Thanks so much, Hope! Bonus points for anyone who can guess what Hope's favorite candy is. :) (She likes Reese's too, but they didn't fit the activity as well.)
This lesson was adapted from Water Pollution Graphing by Utah State University Water Quality Extension. For the full lesson go to https://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/NR_WQ_2005-07.pdf. For more water related activities and information visit http://extension.usu.edu/waterquality/. They have some really great ones, so go check it out!