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6-8, 9-12 Data Exploration & NOS

The Cary Institute has been involved in a long-term study to monitor the increase of sodium chloride in our local stream over the last 25 years.  While sodium is less of a problem for organisms, chloride can be more harmful. Unfortunately, chloride levels have increased in local streams throughout our region, and in many parts of the country, as municipalities treat increasing numbers of roadways with salt during the winter months.  Sodium chloride accumulates in groundwater over time, and is released into streams even during the summer, when groundwater plays a crucial role for supplying water flow.  So, despite the fact that salt is spread in the winter, it is a problem all year, and if current trends continue, many parts of the northeast will have streams with water that is unfit for human consumption and is toxic to freshwater life within the next century (Kaushal et al, 2005).   In addition to being a compelling environmental story, testing for conductivity as a measurement for chloride is relatively easy for students with a PASCO or Vernier probe, and samples can be taken from water bodies and stored conveniently for testing at a later date.  

  • Grades: 6-8, 9-12

    Students will understand the different aspects of pollution and be able to explain why salt pollution is a problem.   Students will know that changing the abiotic factors of an ecosystem affects the organisms living in the ecosystem, and will be able to explain at least two ways in which salt affects organisms from different ecosystems.

  • Grades: 6-8, 9-12

    Students will know how streams become polluted with salt using first and second hand data, and will be able to make a prediction about future chloride levels in their local watershed stream.  

  • Grades: 6-8, 9-12

     Students will know how to test for salt pollution in their local stream and will be able to explain whether their stream is contaminated by salt through first-hand investigations.

  • Grades: 9-12

    Students will know how to test for salt pollution in their local stream and will be able to explain whether their stream is contaminated by salt. 

  • Lesson 5: How much salt?
    Grades: 9-12

    Students will know what level of salt concentration affects aquatic plants and/or animals, and will be able to explain the results of an experiment to determine these levels.

  • Grades: 9-12

    Students will know how salt pollution gets into groundwater, and be able to explain what happens when salt is applied to the ground/roads using data.