A Threat to Biscayne Bay

Effects of Sewage - Contaminated Water on Human Health

Q and A with Helena Solo-Gabriele

Channel 4 Video

Channel 6 Video

Channel 7 Video

Channel 10 Video

Channel 69 Video

Cholera Video



Water Quality Monitoring

Water Quality Standards




Guide to Water

How to Use This Module


Video Clip

Situation for Activities

Water Microbes and Human Health Exercise

Sewage Matrix and Field Experience

Viewing Bacteria Lab

Create a Microbe

Classify the Microbes

Bacterial Growth Lab

Bacterial Movement Through Water: Part 1

Bacterial Movement Through Water: Part 2

Mapping Lab

Beach Clean-up Field Trip!

Microbe and Health Word Search

Microbe Crosword puzzle

Creative Writing

Critical Reading

Stakeholder Debate

Sunshine State Standards

Related Links



Water Module:

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How to Use This Module

The AMBIENT curriculum water module is comprised of a number of segments. Some of these segments can be taught independently and others are meant to be used together in a certain order. The segments are presented roughly in order of planned presentation although it is noted when a segment can be skipped or used out of order. Each segment begins with a cover sheet for teachers describing its;

• Purpose
• Time required
• Required skills
• Key concepts
• Materials needed
• Assessment techniques

The following is a description of the segments and instructions on how teachers can use them to best suit their interests and the time they have allotted to the module.

Student Segments

Video Clip

· Various TV News reports of the actual sewer pipe break incident resulting in microbial pollution of recreational waters.

A Teacher’s Guide to Water Quality

· This document contains the basic factual information about water quality necessary to knowledgeably lead class discussions and guide students' research efforts. It also outlines, by topic, relevant module segments, websites and articles provided with the curriculum. This should be read through before the teacher begins the module with the students. The water primer also contains a glossary which contains definitions for scientific and conceptual terms used in the module. Teachers may want to define these terms with the students as they come up in the module or use them as a starting point for discussion.


· The scenario focuses on an actual sewage spill and the potential impact to beach water quality after the spill. The scenario is the core of the unit around which the activities are developed. Students will generate questions, develop a research plan, read critically, and learn to organize research material as part of the scenario exercise. Students will also share information with others and work in a group.

Water Microbes and Human Health Exercise

· Microbial contamination of water can be an issue for both marine and freshwater sources. This exercise will require students to research the possible sources and human health effects of microbes found in recreational and drinking water. This will enable students to explore the range of negative outcomes of contact with contaminated recreational and drinking water by creating their own crossword puzzle using their new vocabulary and concepts.

Sewage Matrix and Field Experience

· As part of a field experience, students visit a sewage treatment plant. Students prepare for the field experience by reading through the provided “sewage matrix” worksheet and complete the questions either individually or as a class. Additional research helps students complete the questions left unanswered by the tour.

Laboratory Exercises

· The laboratory exercises developed through this module are designed to illustrate the characteristics of microbes. The first set of laboratory exercises focuses on illustrating what microbes look like. The next exercise is designed to introduce students to the classification of microbes by using a taxonomic key. The third set of labs illustrate the ability of microbes to grow or die-off under different environmental conditions. And the final set of experiments focus on evaluating the diffusion and dilution of microbes as they move (at the molecular level) through water.

1) Viewing Bacteria
During this exercise students will use microscopes to view prepared slides of E.coli and live bacterial cultures of E.coli. Next, students will use micro-slide viewers to observe the shapes of other harmful bacteria and the structures within the bacterial cells. Student worksheets are provided for students to draw what they observe through the microscope and micro-viewers.

2) Create a Microbe
In this investigation, students will construct models of microorganisms recognizing size relationships - comparing the size of viruses with the sizes of bacterial and eukaryotic cells.

3) Classify the Microbes
In this activity, students will use a taxonomic key to identify microorganisms. Students will classify bacteria, protists, and viruses using a classification key.

4) Bacterial Growth
This set of laboratory exercises is designed to illustrate concepts of microbial growth. The use of exponents are introduced. Students will be asked to make observations, measure solutions, tabulate data, test hypotheses, and communicate observations in writing and graphically. This set of laboratory experiment consists of three parts.

i. Teacher Led Demonstration -- Teachers will grow yeast (a
surrogate for bacteria) in the laboratory. Students will be shown how to grow the yeast and will participate in an in-class discussion as the laboratory experiment is underway.
ii. Salinity Tolerance Lab -- Students will design an experiment to evaluate the ability of yeast to grow in water containing different salt contents or salinity.
iii. Temperature Tolerance Lab -- Students will conduct research to determine the range of temperatures that can be tolerated by microbes. Students will then design an experiment to evaluate the ability of yeast to grow at different temperatures.

5) Movement Through Water
This set of experiments is designed to illustrate concepts associated with the transport of contaminants in the marine environment. Students will learn about dilution and diffusion processes and their impact on the concentration of contaminants (microbes) in water.

i. Diffusion – In this activity, learners will observe and compare the molecular movement within water at various temperatures and of varying salinity.
ii. Dilution – In this lab experience learners will make dilutions using dilution trays. They will keep track of their dilutions and the concentrations of solute, to parts per million (ppm) and parts per billion (ppb), in order to have an understanding of the terms.

Mapping Exercise

· This is a classroom exercise in which spatial data of the movement of a sewage spill through the coastal environment and various influential factors are presented. The kids are expected to analyze the visual data and to make predictions about where the sewage spill will distribute, given various environmental factors. A map of showing actual sewage beach monitoring data can then be superimposed on the tidal maps to "test" their hypotheses.

Beach Clean-up Field Trip

· The highlight of this activity is a field trip to a local beach. The purpose of the field trip is to determine the amount of solid waste (e.g. cigarette butts) found on the beach. Students will learn how to gather and organize data during this activity. They will also utilize math skills to estimate accumulation of waste on the beach. Students as a result of this exercise will be able to identify sources of pollution, apply their math skills, and develop recommendations for a solution to the problem.

Critical Reading

· This exercise consists of a set of three articles. One focuses on the high costs and other practical limitations associated with improving the sanitary system of the Florida Keys. The second is a somewhat humorous article that focuses on the need to ultimately dispose of sewage. The third article focuses on the negative impacts of increased development of the Florida Keys which results in the need to dispose more sewage. As part of this scenario, students are asked to critically review each article and write an essay that focuses on the student’s interpretation of the sewage disposal problem.

Creative Writing

· This exercise focuses on a passionate story about a man’s lifetime experiences within the Florida Keys. It focuses on how the Keys have changed with increased urbanization and pollution. After reading this story, the students will be asked to write about a place that they enjoy.

Role-Play Debate

· The role-play debate serves as a challenging conclusion to the module. Students will use their accumulated factual knowledge and knowledge of current events to engage in the current debate about the extent of the sewage spill problem and the merits of possible solutions. A variety of roles are suggested representing the many sides of this complex issue. Students will prepare presentations to support their position on the issue.