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Designed by
Rosalie Ann Peterson-Bhatnagar

Back to Acid Rain

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 Kasnic, Instructor.
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.

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 final  report.

National Science Standards Addressed:

National Standards of Mathematics Addressed

Social Science Skills Standards Addressed:

Organizing Theme and Guiding Questions

The unifying theme of this unit is the problem of ACID RAIN specifically, and pollution within the environment generally.

Guiding Question Knowledge Comprehension Application Analysis Synthesis Evaluation
What is Acid Rain? Pollution/Acid Rain Effects on: 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? Industrial processes 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? Products/economy 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? Legislation procedures. Pressures of lobbyists/voters Write letters to representatives Analyze legislation Can legislation work? Discuss:  What is moral/ethical vs.what is popular?

Implementation Overview

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 the possibilities:

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 environment.

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 two.
Day 1 Introduction:Acid Rain.(Reading).Definitions.Newspaper accounts, Industrial Revolution(reading),Statistics(math).Intro:Acids&Bases.
Or see other links to sites on the homepage AcidRain.
Day 2 Teacher hand-outs(see notes,)Video on Acid Rain,Group activity: Choice of Career, Water Cycle, Charts(Math)
See other links on the homepage AcidRain.
Day 3 Individual research.History of Tech. Water monitoring Tests.
Day 4 Individual research. Modern Tech.&Pollution.Burning fossil fuels. Math Problems
Effect on trees
Day 5 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
Day 6 Group Work.Synthesize.Research.Discussion.Pros/cons of Modern technology. Alternate fuels, Power Sources.Statistics:research, validity and reliance.
Day 7 Write outlines of reports.Possible exhibits.Help with interpreting data.
Day 8 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.

a useful link about the atmosphere and acid rain