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Educating for Sustainability


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UNIT: Wastewater Context for Matter and Its Interactions

LESSON: What happens at the wastewater treatment plant?

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Part of a series of lessons in a unit called Wastewater Context for Matter and its interactions. Designed for middle school physical science, students will create an initial model of what happens at a wastewater treatment plant
LESSON: What happens at the wastewater treatment plant?

Lesson Specs

Suitable for Grades

8th Grade
7th Grade
6th Grade

Satisfies Academic Standards: 

Sustainable System Focus:


Academic Subjects


Submitted by:

Jeffrey Burgard

Last Updated:

June 9, 2020 at 3:48:59 AM

Content Connection

A wastewater treatment plant uses properties of matter to get the water clean, but students do not know that yet. The puzzling phenomenon becomes what do they do to the water to get it clean? In this lesson, students will imagine what happens to their wastewater when it goes to the treatment plant and present their ideas to the class.

Community Relevance


Lesson Plan


  1. Teacher
  2. Powerpoint slides
  3. Whiteboard or easel paper
  4. Pens for easel or white board



  1. Water treatment design page


The Plan

Time needed: .5 to 1 class period

  1. Download and edit the PowerPoint to fit your area
  2. Brainstorm with students what are all the things that go down the drain and use the white board or easel to write down the things that they say. Do not make judgments - just write their ideas down and and post them for later.
  3. Go through the PowerPoint with the students sharing the information in the notes section of each slide as you go - stopping at the activities mentioned
  4. Give each student a copy of the “Water Treatment Design Page”
  5. This is designed to be a model in the spirit of Ambitious Science Teaching where students put their best effort into designing the system at the beginning and revising the model as they go
  6. Emphasize that they do not have to be artists, just draw boxes with a label of what would happen in each box for each stage in the process
  7. When students have finished, have students share their ideas on the overhead projector
  8. Do not tell them if they are right or wrong. Ask for clarification and question their thinking.
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