Lesson 7: Environmental Challenges


Activity 1: Investigating Laws and Policies that Protect the Hydrosphere

Materials: phone book and phone
In the reading you learned about sources of pollution, effects of pollution, and ways of controlling pollution. Knowing and understanding the causes and effects of pollution will inform your decisions about future practices. In Lesson 6 you developed an inquiry question centered around an issue with a local, regional, or national water reservoir. In this activity you will investigate the development of local laws regarding the protection of water resources, specifically as they relate to the ocean. In a sense you are seeking the answer to a question about the ways that water is protected.

For this activity, you will contact your local water authority or a member of your local government to inquire about water regulations. Before you call, develop some questions to ask. Below are some sample questions, but feel free to develop your own questions. Record your questions on the "Interview" page.
  • I understand that water from the local area makes it into the local aquifer. Some of it also makes it to local streams and rivers. What laws and regulations are in place to protect ocean waters that are fed by the streams and rivers?
  • How have the laws changed in the past 10-20 years?
  • What are the biggest concerns for the future?
  • How effective are laws and policies at protecting water resources?
When you call, introduce yourself and explain the reason for the call. You will want to make sure you speak to the right person, so explaining why you are calling is very important. It is possible that you will be referred to another individual. Always be polite and thankful when asking and at the end of the call. You will want to write down any information given, so be sure to have your "Interview" activity sheet available. Ask for any resources (such as brochures or other publications) or individuals who would be useful in helping you find your answers. If you are referred to another person or source, be sure to write down any necessary contact information.
In this activity, you will be seeking to make connections between what you know and the impact of changes on the hydrosphere. If you find that there is a lot of information, choose one of the five sources of pollution to focus on and gather as much information as you can about the resource. Take your time. The goal is to contact someone and to gain information. The quantity of information is not as important as the actual gathering of the information. If you have time to contact only one person, that is fine.

If you prefer an alternative means of communication, consider conducting an e-mail interview. While this will be a bit different, you can conduct an interview via digital media. A couple of things to keep in mind. Do not offer any personal information or identifiers such as your location, age, gender, or social network preferences and do not send pictures. You will also want to write an introductory e-mail to let the individual know who is contacting him or her and why.
Student Activity Page
For this activity your child will be contacting a local, regional, or state authority (or all three). The goal for her in the timespan of the activity is to investigate more about laws that are intended to protect water resources and the ocean reservoirs that they feed. Regional areas have different water resources and different policies in place, so there will be a need for flexibility in finding the information. For example, if you live in an arid region with limited rainfall or water resources, it is reasonable to focus on another region. The main goal is to look at the impact of human practices and the policies that govern them for the sake of protecting water reservoirs. While the reading has covered a variety of sources, it is okay to focus on one of the sources shared.

While not necessary, you may want to help coach your child through the interview process. Allow her to practice on you or encourage her to stand before a mirror. This practice will help in case she gets nervous. As an alternative, your child can conduct an interview by email. You may want to supervise this process and ensure that your child does not inadvertently share personal information (address, age, etc.) with the person she's interviewing.