Curricular Unit: Environmental Engineering and Water Chemistry

Contributed by: GK-12 Program, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Washington University in St. Louis

Three images: The Earth ablaze, a round water droplet, the three-arrow recycling symbol around the planet Earth.
Environmental Engneers help protect the Earth and the environment
copyright
Copyright © (left to right) Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's Kids' Page; 2008 José Manuel Suárez, Wikimedia Commons; Howard County, Maryland http://kids.azag.gov/content/teens_globalwarming http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Water_drop_001.jpg http://cc.howardcountymd.gov/displayprimary.aspx?id=6442459560

Summary

Students are introduced to the fundamentals of environmental engineering as well as the global air, land and water quality concerns facing today's environmental engineers. After a lesson and activity to introduce environmental engineering, students learn more about water chemistry aspects of environmental engineering. Specifically, they focus on groundwater contamination and remediation, including sources of contamination, adverse health effects of contaminated drinking water, and current and new remediation techniques. Several lab activities provide hands-on experiences with topics relevant to environmental engineering concerns and technologies, including removal efficiencies of activated carbon in water filtration, measuring pH, chromatography as a physical separation method, density and miscibility.
This engineering curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Environmental engineers are specialists in a wide variety of topics concerning our natural world, energy and the sustainability of our planet. Currently, areas of peak interest include global climate change, reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide, alternative fuel sources, and groundwater quality. Engineers have introduced geologic carbon sequestration as an option for capturing anthropogenic carbon dioxide released from industrial plants and on-road and off-road vehicles. Other engineers have investigated ethanol, hydrogen and algae as creative fuel alternatives to gasoline. Because of the importance of worldwide clean drinking water, some engineers have developed remediation technologies for contaminated groundwater. Skills important to engineers include problem solving and design, preparing presentations and lectures, communication and creativity, as well as a good working knowledge of the physical and chemical properties and behavioral characteristics of water and contaminants.

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Educational Standards

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.

  • Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • The management of waste produced by technological systems is an important societal issue. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Knowledge gained from other fields of study has a direct effect on the development of technological products and systems. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Humans can devise technologies to conserve water, soil, and energy through such techniques as reusing, reducing, and recycling. (Grades 9 - 12) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Science and technology affect, and are affected by, society (Grades K - 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Human activity is dependent upon and affects Earth's resources and systems (Grades 6 - 7) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Science understanding is developed through the use of science process skills, scientific knowledge, scientific investigation, reasoning, and critical think (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
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Unit Overview

Begin this unit by conducting the environmental engineering sub-unit: Introduction to Environmental Engineering lesson, which begins with a PowerPoint presentation, and move to its associated activity, Thinking Green!, as a prelude to the next sub-unit.

Next, conduct the water chemistry sub-unit: Introduction to Water Chemistry lesson, followed by its associated activities, Chromatography Lab, Red Cabbage Chemistry and Water Remediation Lab, which can be taught in any order. Then conduct a two-part lab, presented as Density Column Lab – Part 1 and Density Column Lab - Part 2 activities, and conclude by presenting the Density & Miscibility lesson.

Unit Schedule

Assessment

Pre- and Post-Unit Quiz: To conduct an overall pre/post assessment of this curricular unit, administer the Pre-Unit Assessment to the class before anything has been taught. Then, after completion of lesson 3, administer the Post-Unit Assessment to the same students and compare pre- to post-scores. The Post-Unit Assessment also includes questions about the individual activities performed during the unit. Compare pre- to post-scores to gauge the impact of the curricular unit on students' learning.

Attachments

Contributors

Jessica Ray; Phyllis Balcerzak; Barry Williams; Carleigh Samson

Copyright

© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2010 Washington University in St. Louis

Supporting Program

GK-12 Program, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Washington University in St. Louis

Acknowledgements

This curriculum was developed with support from National Science Foundation GK-12 grant number DGE 0538541. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the NSF, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: June 3, 2017

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