Lesson Two: Objectives
By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

    • Identify and classify examples of point source and non-point source pollution.
    • Describe the effects of pollution on ecosystems, specifically in the Arctic.
    • Explain how pollutants can become concentrated in an organism or ecosystem over time, and how this affects the ecosystem.
    • Explain how pollutants can be a factor in climate change.
    • Explain how climate change effects the Arctic ecosystem and the habitat of the Polar Bear.
    • Make connections between pollution and human activities.
    • Describe possible solutions to the problem of pollution and climate change.

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Engage: Activate Prior Knowledge; Generate Interest

Activate Prior Knowledge
To begin the session, have students view the beginning of the video segment Restricted Waters. Pause at 0:48, and have students brainstorm other ways that pollution affects their lives. What types of pollution have students encountered? Make a list as students generate ideas.

Stimulate Interest
Have students recall the types of ecosystems with which they are familiar, for example, coral reef ecosystems, marsh ecosystems, arctic ecosystems, woodland ecosystems, etc. Of the ecosystems named, which do students think seem most vulnerable to the harmful effects of pollution? Why?

Explore: Allowing Students to Experience Content

Have students read and review the resources on the DE Core Interactive Page: Pollutants and Ecosystems. Students who do not have access to Discovery Education can visit the website,

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Link to DE Core Interactive Text Page: Pollutants and Ecosystems

Explain: Firm Up Understanding; Allow Students to Explain What They Know

Have students view the video segment Water Pollution to review the information they have learned about the sources and effects of pollution. Note that the segment uses the terms "direct" and "indirect" to discuss pollution sources, rather than "point" and "non-point."

After viewing, divide students into small groups, and have them discuss the following review questions. Ask each group to share their answers with the class.

  • What are the main causes of water pollution?Screen shot 2012-10-31 at 11.21.49 AM.png
  • How do pollutants such as fertilizers and sewage affect water?
  • How do bacteria and viruses get into aquatic ecosystems?
  • How does industry contribute to water pollution?
  • How does rain contribute to water pollution?
  • What are some solutions to the problem of water pollution?

Link to DE video: Water Pollution

  • Elaborate: Allow Students to Apply What They Know

Project Ideas: To help your students apply their understanding of pollutants and ecosystems, you may wish to have your students complete some or all of the following projects. The time required to complete each project will vary; some may require students to work outside the classroom.
  • Students arrange a visit to a local water treatment facility, then report what they learned about their community's water supply from the visit. Students should list questions they want to ask at the facility before visiting (Examples: Where does our water supply come from? What process is used to make sure the water is safe for use?)
  • Students work in small groups to research the main sources of pollution in their community and their effects on local ecosystems, then prepare a presentation to the class with the information they learn.
  • Students research to find out how their community is working to avoid harmful effects of pollution, such as lawn fertilizing ordinances and road salt alternatives. They compile a scrapbook including newspaper articles, information from city or community websites, and photographs, to inform others about these efforts.

Engage: Activate Prior Knowledge; Generate Interest

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Explain to students that you will now be focusing on issues related to the Polar Bear. Introduce the concept by comparing a political or topographic map of the Arctic with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's polar bear range map at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=polarbear.rangemap. Point out Kaktovik, Alaska, Churchill, Manitoba, and other communities that are in polar bear territory. Compare the polar bear range map with the home territories of the Iñupiaq or Inuit people, whose traditional settlements are depicted on a map at http://www.uaf.edu/anlc/resources/anlmap/ and http://www.uaf.edu/anla/collections/map/.

Explore: Allowing Students to Experience Content

Have students listen to the podcast Encounters: Polar Bears and Climate Change.

The first time you play the program, have students listen for enjoyment and information. Consider projecting the fifteen photographs that are on the www.encountersnorth.org/wildexplorer/polarbears/ page as the audio is playing. Afterward, place students in pairs or groups of up to four to talk about what they remember from the broadcast while a recorder takes notes in each group. Put the main points into categories and have each student pick a topic to specialize in. Play the broadcast a second time, this time students should pay particular attention to their subject. After students have listened to the program, compile a jigsaw list of what they learned.

Link to podcast: Encounters: Polar Bears and Climate Change

Have students visit the NOAA website to read the article, What has Been Happening to the Polar Bear in Recent Decades?

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Link to NOAA article

Visit the We Can Change The World Challenge website, Grades 6-8 or 9-12 lesson plans section for a collection of Virtual Labs, Reading Passages, and Activities that students can explore. All of these materials are geared towards answering the essential questions regarding long term changes in ecosystems, climate change, and what people can do to protect ecosystems.

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Link to 6-8 lessons on www.wecanchange.com
Link to 9-12 lessons on www.wecanchange.com

Elaborate: Allow Students to Apply What They Know

Have students define an issue related to polar bears and/or climate change that they want to explore. Topics might include
  1. evidence of polar bear distress;
  2. evidence of changing climates;
  3. evidence that climate change is due at least in part to human behavior and activity;
  4. mathematical models that show how polar bear populations are changing and are likely to change in the future;
  5. descriptions of the various interconnected parts of the Arctic environment that are changing and how this affects polar bears;
  6. why and how polar bears' very successful adaptation to living on the sea ice might actually be a contributing cause to its eventual extinction;
  7. a discussion of how changes in polar bear behavior and populations might affect humans.

Put students into groups of two or three based upon their topic. Have them research the topic and prepare a presentation (poster board, ppt, prezi, glogster etc...) to educate the rest of the class about their topic. Be sure that all students take part in the actual presentation.

Evaluate: Check for Understanding
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Have students take the Climate Change quiz on the

Science Channel website as a form of self assessment.

Link to climate change quiz on www.sciencechannel.com