In Supporting Collaborative Inquiry, Engineering and Career Exploration with Water (Water SCIENCE), middle school students from southern Arizona, Central Valley in California, southeastern Pennsylvania, and eastern Massachusetts complete hands-on science and engineering activities, receive guidance and instruction from undergraduate and graduate student mentors, interact online with STEM professionals, and learn about careers in environmental conservation and engineering while investigating their community's local water resources.
View, launch, and assign Water SCIENCE activities from the Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry (ITSI) portal.
The project's educational activities reflect the real-world challenges faced by water authorities in the three geographic regions: water scarcity in Arizona and California's arid climate, animal waste and agrochemical pollution in Pennsylvania's farming communities, and road runoff and wastewater management in the densely populated urban centers of eastern Massachusetts.
Students use the tablet computers now commonly found in middle school classrooms as mobile water-quality analysis instruments. The Water SCIENCE project team is developing a mobile app to record data using an inexpensive chemical water quality tests. The app enables students to evaluate the health of water bodies near their schools and share, map, and visualize the data online in iSense. Students are also able to capture photographs and videos of samples from lakes and rivers, assessing the turbidity of the water, and documenting the presence of invertebrate life forms or visible contaminants.
After completing their water quality assessments, students conduct classroom engineering projects that model the technologies used to clean, conserve, and manage their local water resources. These activities include the cleaning of water by physical means (e.g., filtration) and chemical treatments (e.g., pH balancing). In addition, students engineer water conservation strategies, such as approaches for reducing household water consumption and systems for collecting and recirculating rainwater in their watershed.
Through a series of videos, students have the opportunity observe STEM professionals working in the water field and learn about the critical roles played by scientists, engineers, and other professionals in maintaining healthy water resources, as well as the educational pathways leading to these careers. As a capstone experience, students engage in a role-playing exercise involving a simulated water emergency, such as a drought or an oil or chemical spill.
Water SCIENCE brings together experts in K-12 curriculum and educational technology development (Concord Consortium), environmental sustainability (California SAM Academy and Arizona State University), freshwater science and conservation (Stroud Water Resource Center), and hands-on engineering (Machine Science Inc.).
In the Water SCIENCE project, the partnering organizations will conduct a systematic investigation of the impact of integrating purposefully designed inquiry, engineering, and career-orientation activities into science instruction at the middle school level. The research will be conducted in diverse classroom settings in southern Arizona, southeastern Pennsylvania, and eastern Massachusetts, assessing student outcomes in three areas: 1) STEM career awareness and interest; 2) STEM content knowledge; and 3) the development of supportive mentoring relationships with university students and STEM professionals. Comprehensive data will be collected, using a variety of research instruments, and analyzed both statistically and qualitatively.
Research Question 1. In what ways do Water SCIENCE experiences enhance students’ understanding of and inclination towards STEM career pathways?
Research Question 2. How does students’ STEM content knowledge evolve through their participation in the Water SCIENCE activities?
Research Question 3. How do students’ perceptions of their relationship to peers, undergraduate and graduate mentors, and water professionals change through their participation in the Water SCIENCE activities?
Water SCIENCE brings together experts in K-12 curriculum and educational technology development (Concord Consortium), environmental sustainability (Arizona State University), freshwater science and conservation (Stroud Water Resource Center), and hands-on engineering (Machine Science Inc.).
WaterSCIENCE Curriculum and Standards Alignment
|Key Concepts||Activities||NSES & NGSS|
|Unit 1. Learning about Water Quality|
|Unit 2. Assessing Our Community's Water|
|Unit 3. Cleaning Our Water and Sharing Our Findings|
|Unit 4. Learning About Water-Related STEM Careers|
Sign into the Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry portal as a teacher to access the activities. All activities will be available in Middle School Environmental bin.
Explore Free Water Science Activities for Middle School Environmental Classrooms
View a PowerPoint presentation from NSTA 2017 and explore Water SCIENCE's free web-based watershed-related activities and engineering projects that model the technologies used to clean, conserve, and manage your local water resources.
Water SCIENCE Videos
Participating water scientists and environmental conservationists describe their work.
Water Filtration by Thaddeus Stevens