Think It, Design It, Build It....Water Filtration Activity

Contributor
Science and Children Barbara Ehlers and Jeannie Coughlin
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This unit activity combines learning about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth's resources and environment along with the engineering design process to create a water filtration system.  Constraints and criteria are incorporated in this student-driven engineering design activity to help students make sense of a real world problem, water pollution. Following the design process of think, design, build, test, and refine, students are actively engaged in the science and engineering of creating clean water. 

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Available for purchase - The right to view, keep, and/or download material upon payment of a one-time fee.

Performance Expectations

5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students engage in researching present day problems and issues with water quality. Through a series of activities (water cycle game, reading newspaper articles on local water quality), students were able to integrate information they learned from various texts to record comparisons of water quality problems in a chart. The combined chart of what each group of students found led the students to understand the need for cleaner water. To best meet this performance expectation, the students were encouraged to not only combine their information in a class graph but to have class discussions about what they each discovered through their research.

3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students apply what they learned about water properties and water pollution to realize that clean water is needed throughout the world. Through student driven conversations, the students decided that they would design a water filtration system with specific criteria and constraints. It is suggested that the students fully understand the problem they are solving and how they will measure if their design actually worked. It is also suggested to clearly state the criteria and constraints of their engineering design before the students begin their work.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
It is important to reiterate to the students the constraints and and criteria of their water filtration device. Constraints: designs can use as many water bottles as needed, the filtration materials must fit in the water bottle, and the polluted water must go in the top, be carried by gravity, and come out the bottom. Criteria: Build a water filtration system that cleans water. The water needs to smell good, look clear, and have a pH of 7. It is suggested if students are not familiar with pH tests, that some simple tests be conducted in the classroom with simple items like water, milk and juice so students have an understanding of acids and bases.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
It is suggested by the authors that students research present day problems and issues with water quality to learn how to preserve the precious water we have available to us before beginning to design their water filtration system. To best align to this core idea students are encouraged to test their designs and then redesign and improve upon them by analyzing what worked and what did not work to produce clean water.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
To best align with this disciplinary core idea it is suggested as students are researching about water quality, they are also encouraged to research how the water became polluted in the first place. How does agriculture affect our water supply? Where do the waste products from industry go? Do human activities effect land as well as water? Students can also research how we can control the pollution from getting into our water supply.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
It is important for the students to be writing down their reasoning of what caused what in their designs on the KWL chart or more formally in a science journal. In addition to writing down what caused something to change, it is suggested that students share the evidence as to why they think that's the case. Drawing diagrams and labeling what they changed as they refined their designs would specifically align with the cause and effect concept. Each part of the system that was changed may have had an effect on the outcome of the water and it is suggested that the students reflect on this in writing in addition to peer discussion.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This student driven design activity strongly aligns with the conceptual shifts of the NGSS. Through the designing, constructing, and testing of water filtration systems, students are provided opportunities that allow the three dimensions to work together to support students as they make sense of a phenomena as well as design a solution to a problem. In addition, connections to Common Core ELA and Math are made throughout the unit.

  • Instructional Supports: This water filtration activity engages students in an authentic and meaningful way that reflects the practices of science and engineering. Students are provided the opportunity to design a solution to the real world problem of polluted water. By building on students' prior knowledge, they are provided opportunities to develop deeper understanding of the disciplinary core ideas, practices, and crosscutting concepts. Guidance is suggested in the way of questioning for formative assessments and differentiating instruction for struggling students. Students are encouraged to research water quality issues that pertain to problems close to their home environment. Summative assessment questions are included for students to continue to refine and reflect on their water filtration devices to help them develop a deeper understanding of the practices, core ideas and crosscutting concepts.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Monitoring student progress is assessed though various questioning strategies throughout the activity. A KWL chart is used where students share what they are learning. It is suggested for students to do more formative note taking in a science journal for deeper reflection. The students developed their own way of assessing the success of their products. Questions for written reflection that can be used as a summative assessment are included in the article.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technological component to this activity.