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Educating for Sustainability


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UNIT: Wastewater Context for Matter and Its Interactions

LESSON: Is there a problem in Puget Sound?

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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 understand the problems Puget Sound organisms face because of our wastewater system.
LESSON: Is there a problem in Puget Sound?

Lesson Specs

Suitable for Grades

8th Grade
7th Grade
6th Grade

Satisfies Academic Standards: 

MS-PS1-3 - Synthetic Materials

Sustainable System Focus:

Buildings and Urban Planning

Academic Subjects


Submitted by:

Jeffrey Burgard

Last Updated:

June 9, 2020 at 3:48:59 AM

Content Connection

A lot of the the economy and recreation in the Puget sound is based on the Puget sound and the organisms that live there. In this lesson students realize that what they are doing everyday is having a negative impact on the Sound. This raises the need to understand the wastewater treatment system and the properties of the matter they put down the drain

Community Relevance

Puget sound vital signs - Marine Water Quality

Lesson Plan

Students do a jigsaw reading of issues faced by Puget Sound organisms as the result of human wastewater.




  1. Powerpoint slides



  1. Salmon on Drugs Article
  2. Shellfish Cannot say “no” to drugs
  3. How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply
  4. Polluting the water with toothpaste and household chemicals
  5. Student Sheet - Process grid


Time needed: .5 to .75 of a class period

The Lesson

  1. Provide each person in a group of 4 with a different articles.
  2. Provide students with an amount of time to read and gather information about their article (7-10 minutes)
  3. Group students by article - two groups per article- for them to confirm and solidify their information
  4. Have students report back to their group and share what their information with the rest of the group. As students report, all other students in group record in their own process grid.
  5. Facilitate a class discussion where representatives from each group share their responses and you fill out the grid with them on screen with the PowerPoint provided.
  6. In the discussion: let students know that drugs get into the water by people dumping them into toilets and simply peeing after they are taken. Reassure students because some will feel guilty because they have to take medication. Tell them that human health is important, we just have to find a way to get the substances out cheaply and easily. Maybe they will be the one that figure it out
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