Grade Range
6th-11th
Active Time
120 minutes
Total Time
120 minutes
Area of Science
Environmental Science
Plant Biology
Key Concepts
ecosystems, pollution, nutrients, agriculture, phytoplankton
Credits

Overview

Mississippi River Morganza Spillway satellite image

"Morganza Spillway" © 2011 NASA Earth Observatory

Can we use a model to predict the impacts of nutrient pollutants on an aquatic ecosystem? In this activity, students participate in a kinesthetic simulation to illustrate how nutrient pollution from agricultural runoff can lead to a dead zone at the mouth of a drainage basin.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Grades 6-8

Developing and Using Models. Develop and/or use a model to predict and/or describe phenomena.

Constructing Explanations. Construct an explanation using models or representations.
Grades 6-8

MS-ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems. Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth's environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things. (MS-ESS3-3)
Grades 6-8

Systems and System Models. Systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be part of larger complex systems.

Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes, and outputs—and energy, matter, and information within systems.

Models are limited in that they only represent certain aspects of the system under study.

Cause and Effect. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

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Grade Range
6th-11th
Active Time
120 minutes
Total Time
120 minutes
Area of Science
Environmental Science
Plant Biology
Key Concepts
ecosystems, pollution, nutrients, agriculture, phytoplankton
Credits
Free science fair projects.