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Water - State Inquiry Experience

A Statewide Inquiry Experience - Wisconsin Water

Wisconsin Science Fesitval LogoWater can be an integral aspect of many scientific phenomena for student investigation as part of this Statewide Inquiry Experience. Projects can be conducted and shared anytime during the school year, though we particularly hope to share and build connections during Wisconsin Water Week, the Wisconsin Science Festival , the conference of the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education, and the conference of the Wisconsin Society of Science TeachersBelow are ideas for a core shared lesson across the state and resources for sharing that lesson, as well as further resources, such as other water lessons linked to standards and grants for water projects. 

A Core Lesson Idea and Sharing Work across the State with Siftr

While teachers are encouraged to use and share any science lessons related to water, we also encourage using a core data-collection lesson that can be visually shared throughout the year. The core lesson asks students to mark off a paved over area where water runs (like a parking lot) and sweep up what's in that area at multiple times through the year. They look for patterns in what water carries from these areas into their waterways and watershed, with some possible extension investigations of ecosystem impacts, chemical run-off impacts, and impacts on earth systems. Link to core lesson. Siftr map of Wisconsin image

As students conduct the core investigation or other classroom investigations, we encourage educators to share their data, lessons, student work, images, etc. through Siftr. At this link, you will first be asked to create a quick account, then you will: 1) upload an image of the work done (could be a screen shot of a lesson or image of students doing field work); 2) zoom in and pan to move a black dot onto the specific location on a map where the work was done; 3) select the type of item you're uploading - a water activity for others to access, a STEAM/STEM activity and related information, student generated data, existing professional water-related information (such as data); volunteering to support this work, or social studies related water projects; 4) add a description, ideally with a link, and note the related grade level as applicable. Done! Your project will then show up on the Wisconsin map (like that on the right). For more information on how to use Sifter, here is a basic Sifter guide

You can also email Kevin to share your story in a format besides Sifter, such as an article or blog post. Here's one story from educator, Dennis Rohr, in Seymour, WI:  

Further Resources

Related Wisconsin organizations and resources

Grants that could be used for water projects

Wisconsin Standards for Science can be connected to water related student projects at every grade level. This table provides a list of ideas, including many lessons curated by NSTA (note: links go to an evaluation of the lesson, while actual links to the lessons are found in upper right corner through "view this resource" button)

Grade Level Idea(s) with WATER - all of these would be incorporated into a phenomenon-based unit

Related Science Standard(s)

  • LS1 - Energy in plants and animals
  • ESS3 - Human impacts and natural hazards
  • ETS1 - Engineering
  • Grade 1
    • Students design a solution for getting, storing, or cleaning water based on animal or plant structures, researching how local living things do this.
    • They model water moving up plants using paper towels or other fibers and collect data about this process using colored water in celery.
    • They design an investigation to show that sound and light can travel through water. 
    • Using Biomimicry to Solve a Problem
    • Water Going up Celery Experiment - from Better Lesson
  • LS1 - Structures of plants and animals 
  • PS4 - Waves and information transfer 
  • ETS1 - Engineering
  • Grade 2
  • LS2.A – Ecosystems
  • PS1.B – Chemical Reactions
  • ESS2 – Earth’s Systems
  • LS2.A – Ecosystems
  • PS2.A - Forces and Motion
  • ESS2.D – Weather and Climate
  • ESS3.B – Natural Hazards
  • ETS1 - Engineering
  • PS3 - Energy
  • PS4 - Waves
  • ESS2 – Earth’s Systems 
  • ETS1 - Engineering
  • PS1 - Structure and Properties of Matter
  • LS2 - Ecosystems
  • ESS2 – Earth’s Systems
  • ESS2 - Earth's Systems
  • ESS3 - Human Impacts
  • ETS1 - Engineering
  • Grade 6-8 Physical Science
    • Students observe changes in properties of ice as it is heated and create a model showing changes in molecular motion during this process. 
    • They design and test a solar cooker to make s'mores, evaluating the heat transfer in varying designs.
    • Design an experiment to evaluate how well sound in transferred through various media, including water.
    • Phase Changes - from American Chemical Society
    • Energy of Moving Water - hydroelectric power
    • Save the Penguins - thermal energy transfer and engineering design
    • Melting Ice - hands-on measurements and computer simulation
    • Sound Waves and Ocean Waves - animal communication underwater
  • PS1 - Matter and Its Interactions 
  • PS2 - Motion and Forces
  • PS3 - Energy
  • ETS1 - Engineering
  • Grade 6-8 Life Science
    • Students create a model showing the journey of water molecules through multiple living systems and the environment.
    • Students design and implement strategies to limit the spread of invasive aquatic species, along with modeling ecosystems with and without these species. 
    • Students collect data on local bodies of water (chemicals present, macroinvertebrates present, etc.) to determine their health, and then design solutions to support these systems (such as rain gardens for parking lot runoff). 
    • Explaining How Plants Make Food
    • HHMI Coral Bleaching
    • Modeling Marine Food Webs - would adapt to a WI aquatic food web
  • LS1 - Structure and function
  • LS2 - Ecosystems
  • ETS1 - Engineering
  • Grade 9-12 Earth Science
    • Students analyze water chemistry data they collect in their community and from others across the state. This could be testing in private wells or public waterways, looking for trends relative to human impacts (e.g., farming, industry) and natural minerals (e.g., lead). 
    • They create scientifically possible maps of surface and subsurface features of a fictional world, providing a rationale for how they look. 
    • They develop a mock-up of a simulation that would predict long-term changes in landforms across their region given current water flow trends.
    • They collect and analyze evidence for water on other planets and moon, relating it to processes through geologic time on the earth.
    • Tracking Groundwater Pollution: A Hazardous Whodunit
    • Mock Town Meeting on a Proposed Chemical Storage Tank
    • Evaluating Ice Core Data
    • Will There Be Enough Freshwater?
    • Plastics in Our Water (article) - students investigate, design solutions, and DO something about this crisis!
  • ESS2 - Earth Systems
  • ESS3 - Human Impacts
  • (also) PS1 - Chemical Properties and LS2 - Ecosystems
  • Grade 9-12 Physical Science
    • Students model the unique phenomena related to water made possible through hydrogen bonding and polar molecules (e.g. surface tension).
    • They connect properties of water to engineering problem-solving and engineering constraints. 
    • They design and test hydroelectric generators with local water sources, modeling the full pathway of energy transfers involved in the system. 
    • They use mathematical representations to compare the frequency, wavelength, or speed of waves (i.e., sound and light) through water and air. 
    • Surface Tension of Water Investigations
    • Designing a Solar Water Heater
    • Physics Calorimetry Lab - w/ hot and cold water
  • PS1 - Chemical Properties & Reactions
  • PS3 - Energy
  • PS4 - Waves
  • ETS1 - Engineering
  • Grade 9-12 Life Science
    • Students analyze and compare the role of water across biochemical processes in organisms (e.g. cellular respiration, photosynthesis, immune system functions, growth, etc.) and connect that to the properties of water molecules. 
    • They design and compare investigations that test multiple waste water treatment strategies for a small town. 
    • They develop a model, using evidence, to support the idea of why not to drink too much water. 
    • Provide evidence for the boundaries chosen for the study of natural systems that include water runoff and aquatic organisms. 
    • Students evaluate evidence and make reasoned claims for evolution of life happening underwater near hydrothermal vents. 
    • Systems and Homeostasis - investigating the death of a football player
    • Human Homestasis Simulation 
    • Assessment Probe - Which Bacterium Will Dry Out Last? - from a formative assessment series by Page Keeley
  • LS1 - Structure & Function
  • LS2 - Ecosystems
  • LS4 - Evolution
  • ETS1 - Engineering


For questions about this information, contact Kevin Anderson (608) 266-3319