Grade Level: 7 (5-7)
Choose From: 7 lessons and 14 activities
Subject Areas: Earth and Space
SummaryIn this unit, students explore the various roles of environmental engineers, including: environmental cleanup, water quality, groundwater resources, surface water and groundwater flow, water contamination, waste disposal and air pollution. Specifically, students learn about the factors that affect water quality and the conditions that enable different animals and plants to survive in their environments. Next, students learn about groundwater and how environmental engineers study groundwater to predict the distribution of surface pollution. Students also learn how water flows through the ground, what an aquifer is and what soil properties are used to predict groundwater flow. Additionally, students discover that the water they drink everyday comes from many different sources, including surface water and groundwater. They investigate possible scenarios of drinking water contamination and how contaminants can negatively affect the organisms that come in contact with them. Students learn about the three most common methods of waste disposal and how environmental engineers continue to develop technologies to dispose of trash. Lastly, students learn what causes air pollution and how to investigate the different pollutants that exist, such as toxic gases and particulate matter. Also, they investigate the technologies developed by engineers to reduce air pollution.
Engineers continually work to prevent pollution so that our air is safe to breathe and our water is safe to drink and use for bathing and recreating. Different types of engineers continue to explore new, creative ideas to lower air emissions, such as designing more efficient vehicles, industrial filters to reduce the amount of particulate matter released into the atmosphere, and indoor air filters to keep our indoor air clean. Engineers design drinking water treatment facilities that bring safe drinking water to our schools, offices and homes.
Environmental and civil engineers guard the quality of our water resources in many ways. They design water and sewage treatment plants that clean water for human use, and design industrial systems and filters that make sure factory-released water is not polluting our environment. Furthermore, environmental engineers help clean up water sources and air that are polluted. They are challenged to clean the groundwater and restore it to a natural or usable state so that it remains free of harmful chemicals that could contaminate the drinking water supply and make people sick.
Another very important type of engineering involves the creative technologies to dispose of the enormous amount of trash produced in the U.S. Engineers design sanitary landfills to prevent groundwater, soil and air pollution. With the mountains of trash winding up in landfills each day, engineers are working to find ways to more quickly break down materials and create methods to reuse what is left for trash.
Whether keeping our water safe or finding ways to reuse water bottles, engineers are very important to our environmental health. Clearly, engineers greatly contribute to our health and safety.
(optional: Show students the What Is Engineering? video)
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science,
technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN),
a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics;
within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
See individual lessons and activities for standards alignment.
- Day 1: Oil Spill Consequences and Cleanup Technologies lesson
- Day 2-3: Small-Scale Modeling of Oil Spill Cleanup Methods activity
- Day 4-6: Modeling Oil on the Ocean: Testing & Improving Oil Booms activity
- Day 7: How Clean is that Water? lesson
- Day 8: Pea Soup Ponds: Algae Investigation & Analysis for Water Quality activity
- Day 9-10: Stream Consciousness activity
- Day 11: An Underground River lesson
- Day 12: Where Does All the Water Go? activity
- Day 13: How Full Is Full? activity
- Day 14: Who's Down the Well? lesson
- Day 15: What's Down the Well? activity
- Day 16-17: Groundwater Detectives activity
- Day 18: Landfills: Building Them Better lesson
- Day 19: Eek, It Leaks! activity
- Day 20-21: Design, Build and Test Your Own Landfill activity
- Day 22: You Are What You Drink! lesson
- Day 23: Straining out the Dirt activity
- Day 24: From Lake to Tap activity
- Day 25: The Air We Breathe lesson
- Day 26-27: I Breathe WHAT?? activity
- Day 28-30: Cleaning the Air activity
More Curriculum Like This
In this lesson, students learn about the three methods of waste disposal in use by modern communities. They also investigate how engineers design sanitary landfills to prevent leachate from polluting the underlining groundwater.
Copyright© 2009 by Regents of the University of Colorado
Supporting ProgramIntegrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder
The contents of these digital library curricula were developed under grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation (GK-12 grant no. 0338326). However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the U.S. Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.
Last modified: July 20, 2021