This unit was developed at Emporia State University, Emporia,
Kansas, as partial requirement for the course: Teaching
with the World Wide Web: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Dr. Michael
Acid Rain is intended as a two-week minimum
study with students choosing to approach the study in role-playing as Chemists,
Economists, Historians, Health Workers, Environmentalists, or Politicians.
This interdisciplinary unit on Acid Rain is intended to help teach students
to research independently, while it also utilizes cooperative learning
in groups, encourages the development of higher thinking skills, and brings
the school subjects into the "real world".
The subjects included in this study may be social studies,
science, history, mathematics, and language arts, but this is flexible
according to the local requirements and needs.An interdisciplinary team of teachers would
best be able to maximize the potential of the program, although individual
teachers also will find it useful.Skills of inquiry(i.e.,framing research problems, collecting data
, analyzing data, interpreting data, formulating alternative solutions
to problems)are learned in conjunction with learning to use technology to aid in the inquiry process.
Among the many kinds of activities students actively engage in are
brainstorming,discovery learning,experiments, field trips, individualized instruction, and small group
work. Upon completing the program students will understand the interacting influences of pollution,
factors which cause acid rain and how to devise various solutions for resolving problems.
This unit is designed for junior high level students, however the unit may easily be extended to
additional grades and subjects if desired.
CURRICULUM STANDARDS Students will learn what acid rain is, where it comes
from, what problems it causes, who or what is effected, how it has evolved
historically, if it can be prevented or reduced, and if so, how?
Students will learn skills of researching, working independently, working
cooperatively in groups, collecting data, assessing information, drawing
conclusions from their research, and communication skills of writing the
National Science Standards Addressed:
Accessible to all students.
Build on students' experience and knowledge.
Use an intructional model based on scientific process such
as: question, discover, create, communicate, and pursue new questions.
Relate to personal and social needs.
Select science concepts that are developmentally appropriate,
with illustrative examples drawn from the content on multiple discipline
Developing scientific habits of mind such as curiosity,
skepticism, honesty, living with ambiguity.
Shifts the role of the teacher from imparter of knowledge
to designer of learning.
Seek relevant and significant applications of science content
and concepts to students'personal and community life.
National Standards of Mathematics Addressed
Pose tasks based on sound and significant mathematics.
Build on students'prior experience and knowledge.
Develop mathematics thinking skills that convince students of
the validity of particular representations, solutions, conjectures, and
Engage students' intellect: pose questions and tasks that
elicit, engage, and challenge each student's thinking.
Develop students' mathematical knowledge and skills.
Social Science Skills Standards Addressed:
Recognize the historical significance of something important
Recognize the interaction of history, economics, politics,
Relate the government policies to problem solutions
Realize the complexity of problems/solutions.
Organizing Theme and Guiding Questions
The unifying theme of this unit is the problem of ACID RAIN
specifically, and pollution within the environment generally.
What is acid rain?
How does it affect the environment (and us)?
Where does it come from?
How can it be prevented or minimized?
What is Acid Rain?
Litmus paper test, chalk in vinegar.
Problems Acid Rain causes
Solution to the problem.
Make a case for or against modern technology/acid rain.
Where does acid rain come from?
Visit a local factory, industry.
Analyze the industrial revolution and how it affected society.
Minimize the problems
Discuss the pros and cons of our modern technology
Who suffers economically?
A Local problem: dollar cost of acid rain.
Analyze the effects on a local economy.,
Estimate the cost of prevention.
Discuss: Cost of pollution/Cost of prevention
Can one legislate against Acid Rain?
Pressures of lobbyists/voters
Write letters to representatives
Can legislation work?
Discuss: What is moral/ethical vs.what is popular?
This unit on Acid Rain could best be organized to suit local
requirements, with teachers of the appointed subjects (as locally decided)
allowing research time in the first week with tools of research outlined
as web searches as given, local library topics, and local sites to study.
A local industry could be visited or a local factory or industrial
representative could be asked to give a class presentation on their processes
and pollution controls. In week two students could discuss their
research outcomes and at the end of week two each group would present their
findings and written reports would be handed in.
Envisioned: Several class periods a day, in for
example, history, language arts, science, social studies and mathematics would
be used to research the various aspects of the problem and solutions. This
study should be presented as an interdisciplinary study, allowing students
to pursue their chosen aspects of the problem.
Material Resources Needed
Describe what's needed to implement this lesson. Some of
Class sets of books, Acid Rain: A Student First Sourcebook, 1990(EPA)
How Acid Rain Forms(KARE Water Resources in Pennsylvania), pH of Common
Substances(WaterWise Lessons in Water Resources, 1989), pH range
that supports aquatic life(Water Wise Lessons in Water Resources),local
Teacher hand-outs:Basic Facts About Acid Rain
(from Acid Rain:A Student First Sourcebook)
Computer access for web search of given sites/minimum: one
Overhead Projector/Screen/VCR/TV Videos: Acid Rain:
Requiem or Recovery (Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission)
on Acid Rain
Water Monitoring Kits, pH 7.0 Buffer solution, litmus
Human Resources Needed
The teachers needed to implement this study depends on the
number of subjects included. A partner in industry would be beneficial
in presenting an outline of the industrial process to the class.
A field trip if possible would also be included if possible.
Entry Level Skills and Knowledge
Newspaper reports describing problems of acid rain in various
parts of the world could be read and discussed along with the basic nature
of the properties of acids and their formation in the atmosphere.Students
should have a basic knowledge of pollution and its adverse affects on
The teacher's role will be to outline the problem, organize
the study groups, guide in the research tools required, and if needed to
assist in the evaluation process. The teacher should encourage creative
ideas of students in their approach to the solution of the problem.Teacher
should be experienced in guiding independent research and role-playing.
Outline of Activities
Week one of the study should be set aside for researching
the topics chosen. Research is broken down into web sites, class books,
library sources, and local sites. Week two should be utilized for group
discussion and evaluating the various aspects of the topic, with
the eventual class presentations and written reports at the end of week
Introduction:Acid Rain.(Reading).Definitions.Newspaper accounts,
Industrial Revolution(reading),Statistics(math).Intro:Acids&Bases. Intro Acids Or see other links to sites on the homepage AcidRain.
Teacher hand-outs(see notes,)Video on Acid Rain,Group activity:
Choice of Career, Water Cycle, Charts(Math) Acidity See other links on the homepage AcidRain.
Possible Field Trip to a local Industrial or water-treatment site.
Monitoring of local water site(river, stream, pond or wetlands).
Other things to do
Group Work.Synthesize.Research.Discussion.Pros/cons of Modern
technology. Alternate fuels, Power Sources.Statistics:research, validity and reliance.
Write outlines of reports.Possible exhibits.Help with interpreting data.
Guest speaker from the community. Continue to write up reports.
Days 9 and 10
Presentations to the Class.Write letters to State
Representatives, Fed.Representatives, Local,as desired.
Students should show extensive research tools in their work.
The problem of acid rain as it is demonstrated in their particular field
should be well documented. Creative ideas of how the problem should be
addressed and solutions given should be given highest regard in evaluating
the report and the group presentations.
The importance of bringing the study into the real world
and its affect on the students' lives should be made paramount. Students
should realize the dilemmas involved in enjoying the products of modern
technology while preserving the environment. Pictures or visual aids
showing drastic effects of acid rain on the environment could be used to
illustrate the problem. Each student should be made aware that the environment
is fragile and not to be taken for granted, and that each person can make
a difference in helping to preserve our world.