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Is it too salty? Collecting Samples

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Unit Plan: Salt Pollution Lesson: 3 Time: One class period Setting: Outdoors Objectives:

 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.


  1. Students will make predictions about salt pollution in their sampling area.
  2. Students will collect local water samples.  

Copies of student worksheet – Is it too salty? 

Copies of reference table – Salt Pollution Reference Table

Sample bottles & markers

  1. Pass out the student worksheets “Is it too salty?”
  2. Engage: Students should complete the first few questions on the first page of the worksheet in preparation for the outdoor investigation.  Depending on the size of your class, you may want to collect samples in the same places with all students, or divide them up to collect samples throughout your schoolyard.  Making a class “map” of the sampling sites can help in the organization of this task.  Alternatively, you can bring in samples from a nearby stream (however we strongly recommend taking students into the field for context). 
  3. Explore: Students will go outside to collect water samples from area ponds or streams, keeping track of the location of their collection on a diagram and labeling the bottles appropriately.  If time permits, students can collect other water quality data such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, flow, etc.  The guiding question remains: Are our local water bodies polluted by salt? 
  4. Students should bring in samples of water from their homes or streams near their homes to test tomorrow.   


Teacher note:  Students should keep the Is it too salty? lab handout and the Salt Pollution Reference Table for use on Day 4.

Lesson Files:
Benchmarks for Science Literacy: 2B Mathematics, Science and Technology 4G Forces of Nature NYS Standards: MST 1 - Mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science
Next Generation Science Standards
Science and Engineering Practices: Asking questions and defining problems Planning and carrying out investigations

Cornelia Harris