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THE NEED

Water quality has become a major concern throughout North Carolina, the nation, and the rest of the world.  It is imperative that the citizens of our state have an understanding of water quality science, the sources of water pollution, the problems caused by polluted water, and how their decisions and actions can affect water quality.  One way to begin this education process is by giving every 8th grader and high school student in the state the scientific background needed to make informed decisions on the complex issues related to water quality.

TEACHING THE SCIENCE OF WATER QUALITY

That’s why It's Our Water was created, a North Carolina specific, educational curriculum focused on water quality for the state's 8th grade and high school level Earth and Environmental Science teachers and educators to use with their students.  The goal of It’s Our Water is to educate young citizens about the scientific principles at the heart of the increasingly urgent water quality and quantity issues in our country.  With a solid understanding of the science, our future decision-makers will be better equipped to make the many difficult choices that lie ahead.

And the best way to make the science of water quality hit home with students is to make it real to them.  That is why field activities in a local stream are the heart of this water resources curriculum.  It’s Our Water puts students into the shoes of water resources investigators as they research real-world water quality issues in their local streams.  Students will wade through streams to create detailed profiles while performing their own water quality testing and monitoring.  They look for the sources of water quality problems and investigate how water quality and quantity issues affect them and their communities.  Additionally, students learn to make choices about how we will protect our water resources for the future.  

It’s Our Water covers the importance of water monitoring and maintaining water quality, and the impacts individual choices and actions have on water quality and quantity.  It’s Our Water is centered on field activities in a local stream, that lead to a final report and recommendations by the class.  These activities are coordinated with a series of videos, demonstrations, classroom activities, homework, and quizzes.  This complete water quality science curriculum emphasizes:

  • concepts of the hydrosphere,
  • movement of surface and ground water,
  • use of topographic maps,
  • North Carolina’s water resources,
  • water quality testing,
  • impact of human activity on water pollution,
  • point and nonpoint source pollution,
  • water quality regulations,
  • possible solutions to water quality issues.

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CORRELATED TO STATE STANDARDS

All materials and activities are correlated to the related goals in the 2012 North Carolina Essential Standards for Earth/Environmental Science and 8th Grade Science.  Teachers can meet their teaching requirements using local water resources and inquiry-based, hands-on learning.

THE MATERIALS

It’s Our Water is a complete curriculum divided into five modules.  Each module begins with a short video that presents a water quality topic, reviews scientific principles, shows real-life examples of current water issues, and introduces students to various professions related to water.  Classroom demonstrations, discussions, homework, quizzes, and hands-on activities reinforce major concepts and prepare students for field investigation.  Students develop an understanding of how these water resources issues affect them directly by investigating the stream nearest their school.  The skills and knowledge required in each module build on earlier modules.  Student will work towards completing a final project that examines the status of the water quality in their stream and offers recommendations for managing the stream.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

An integral element of It’s Our Water is professional development.  In order to receive a complete set of materials for It’s Our Water, educators must attend a comprehensive It’s Our Water Workshop, delivered via either a live workshop or a self-paced, video-based, interactive online course available to teachers and environmental educators across the state.  Both live and online versions of the workshop give educators instruction in how to do the hands-on activities.  Check the IOW Professional Development Page for information on how to take the online course.