Science 8: Local Aquatic System Health

Science 8: Local Aquatic System Health



 Students will learn the significant relationship between humans and the ecosystems of which they are part, including the consequences of human activities on the environment. This lesson gives students the chance to get hands-on experience with western scientific approaches to understand aquatic ecosystem health.



Aquatic ecosystems are impacted by human induced threats such as climate change, industrial development (oil and gas, mining), and hydroelectric dams. Understanding threats to the water is critical because people in the Mackenzie River Basin rely on it for food, drinking water, and travel. Traditional Knowledge and observations of land users are important sources of information about these threats. Western science is also a useful way of investigating water quality. This lesson introduces students to different threats facing the Mackenzie River and types of scientific tests that can explain the health of the water. Students will get firsthand experience completing scientific monitoring to investigate levels of water pollution near their community.


Key questions for student inquiry: 

What types of threats face areas of the Mackenzie River?  How can scientific monitoring be useful for making decisions about these threats? 



In classroom or computer lab / scientific testing should take place on the land/water, although can take place in the classroom


Length of activity:

1 class period (part 1) / 1 day (part 2) / 1 class period (part 3) 

Teacher Resources


Materials Needed:

Note:  Handouts and worksheets are provided in the downloadable Lesson Plan Package

Connections to Curriculum


Unit E: Freshwater and Saltwater Systems (Social and Environmental Emphasis)

Focusing Questions: How do water, land and climate interact? What are the characteristics offreshwater and saltwater systems, and how do they affect living things, including humans?

  • 4 – Analyze human impacts on aquatic systems; and identify the roles of science and technology in addressing related questions, problems and issues 
    • illustrate the role of scientific research in monitoring environments and supporting development of appropriate environmental technologies (e.g., describe a local example of aquatic monitoring, and describe how this research contributes to watershed management)

Skills Outcomes: Performing and Recording

Students will: Conduct investigations into the relationships between and among observations, and gather and record qualitative and quantitative data

  • identify strengths and weaknesses of different methods of collecting and displaying data (e.g., identify strengths and weaknesses of technologies used to monitor and map changes in stream flow)

Attitudes Outcomes: Scientific Inquiry

Students will be encouraged to:

  • Seek and apply evidence when evaluating alternative approaches to investigations, problems and issues