Overview

Action Plan

Teacher Resources

Student Resources

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Flushing Away Our Future: Action Plan
In this S.W.I.S.H investigation, neighborhood middle school and high school science classes collaborate to investigate toilet water use per flush by counting personal flushes and calculating water usage. Then, students apply that knowledge to investigate how much water is used by visitors staying in large hotels at Jacksonville beaches, as well as the revenue these hotels produce for Jacksonville's economy. Finally, the students will produce a water conservation brochure and make it available for water conservation awareness for visitors at beach hotels.

Suggested Time Allowance: 2-3 weeks


Introduction:
Designed as a standards-based collaborative activity for middle and high school feeder schools, this action plan spans grades six through twelve. Supporting the National Science Education Standards' premise that "Science As Inquiry" works best using real world problems, all students should develop an understanding of:
  • Populations, resources, and environments:
    • When an area becomes overpopulated, the environment will become degraded due to the increased use of resources.
    • Causes of environmental degradation and resource depletion vary from region to region and from country to country.

Objectives:
Middle School students will:

  1. Design and conduct a scientific investigation for water usage during toilet flushes.
  2. Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data for water usage.
  3. Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using the data analysis and interpretations.
  4. Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.
  5. Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions.

High School students will:

  1. Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations, i. e. investigate how much water is used by visitors staying in large hotels at Jacksonville beaches, and compare water consumption with the revenue the targeted hotels produce for Jacksonville's economy.
  2. Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions.
  3. Communicate scientific procedures and explanations by developing and distributing a brochure.
  4. Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry

Activities / Procedures:

Middle School Students

The Question: Exactly how much water do we use when flushing the toilet?

Warm-Up : Communicating: Use the KWL method.

  1. Use the question to brainstorm what students know about water conservation and toilet flushing. Write student thoughts on the board or a chart tablet.
  2. Organize the knowledge into primary and secondary.
  3. Next, find out what students want to know about water conservation and toilet flushing.

Experiencing, Measuring, Observing, and Verifying

  1. Use the Toilet Talk as an introduction for concrete activities for water use.
  2. Review quarts and gallons. Use gallon milk jugs to fill containers that hold 5 gallon, 3.5 gallon, and 1.6 gallon containers.
  3. Use the chart for students to gather data at home.

Charting and Graphing

  1. Create a graph of tank sizes and water use when flushing for your classroom.
  2. Classifying and Comparing
  3. What if everyone in your class had a 1.6 gallon tank? Add together the total number of flushes for your class then multiply the total flushes by 1.6 gallons.
  4. Now subtract that number from the number of total gallons your class really uses each day.
  5. How much water would be saved if each family had a 1.6 gallon tank?

Inferring and Interpreting Data

  1. Infer how much water is used by all of the families of students in your school.
  2. How will you interpret this data in answering this question? How can you save water by just focusing on toilet use?

Explaining, Generalizing, Applying, and Hypothesizing

  1. Explain how much water you could save if you had a smaller tank at your home.
  2. Think about how much water is used at the local beach hotels? What would you need to know to find out how many gallons of water an average hotel uses just by flushing toilets each day?

High School Students

The Questions: Based on the data collected at the middle school, how much water do you think is used in the beach hotels daily? How can we effectively communicate the need for water conservation to people staying in the beach hotels?

Warm-Up : Communicating: Use the KWL method:

  1. Find out what we know about water use at the beach hotels. Write student thoughts on the board or a chart tablet.
  2. Organize the knowledge into primary and secondary.
  3. Next, find out what students want to know to communicate what they have learned from the middle school students' data to the their own lives.

Inferring and Interpreting Data

  1. Look at the data generated by the middle school students. Think critically and logically to make the relationships between middle school data and their personal water use at home.
  2. Use the chart to gather your own data to compare with the middle school data.
  3. Graph your data and compare use with middle school data.

Explaining, Generalizing, Applying and Hypothesizing

  1. If there are differences, what do you attribute them to?
  2. How can you generalize the combined results to water use by toilet flushing at the beach?
  3. How can you apply what you think to estimate and hypothesize water use at the beach?

Model Building and Predicting: Expanding the Experiment to Beach Visitors

Developing A Survey: Develop a survey for water use at beach hotels.

In developing the survey, students must consider the following guidelines:

2. Determine the survey participants. Then, develop survey questions that will allow the class to keep track of survey participants' responses in terms of any information that may be relevant. Discuss why these items are important for gathering data and how they may vary depending on the participants.

3. Develop the survey questions. For data collection purposes, it is best for students to not ask "yes/no" or open-ended questions. Better types of survey questions, from a statistical accuracy standpoint, are those to which participants respond "always, sometimes, never," rank comments in the order of importance, or answer close-ended questions by circling responses.

4. Determine how the survey will be analyzed. What mathematics will be necessary? (mean, mode, and standard deviation, as well as determine validity and reliability of individual questions.)

5. After designing the survey, students should share their predictions of
what the study will show about water usage of flushes at the
beaches. The teacher or a student should type out the survey neatly
and photocopy it to distribute to students.

6. Students conduct the survey developed in class with a select beach
hotel (a sample). Each student should be responsible for the same
minimum number of survey participants.

7. Once the data is collected, students should work in pairs or small
groups to analyze and interpret the findings from the hotels.

8. Models of their findings will be developed for students to compare the
findings with their initial predictions.

9. Students will find out what the revenue is from these hotels then compare it to the water use to disern the trade-off of income versus water usage.

10. Students will develop brochures of the findings to be distributed to beach hotels and the public to raise community water conservation awareness.

Further Questions for Discussion:
These are questions that come up as a result of this project. Examples might be questions of other kinds of water conservation.

Evaluation / Assessment:
Students will be evaluated on initial written activity, participation in class discussions, thoughtful participation in designing a research study, and participation in survey distribution and analysis.