Can You Undo Water Pollution?

Overview

  • This experiment explores the possibility of undoing water pollution. It demonstrates how once things such as oil, trash, dirt, salt, and yard waste are in the water, they are not always easily removed.

Objective

  • Demonstrate how different pollutants can affect waterways and whether they can be removed once in the water.

Materials

  • Bucket/Tote (something transparent works best)
  • Water
  • Tongs
  • Strainer
  • Vegetable oil
  • Various trash (paper, candy wrappers, plastic bottles, etc.)
  • Dirt (substitute: cocoa powder)
  • Salt
  • Grass clippings or leaves (substitute: parsley flakes)

Instructions/Procedures

  1. Fill the bucket/ tote with clean water.
  2. Add the various pollutants:
    1. Vegetable oil – oil spills and oil from vehicles
    2. Trash
    3. Dirt or cocoa powder – soil and pet waste
    4. Salt – road salt
    5. Grass clippings and leaves or parsley flakes – yard waste
  3. Discuss the effects of each pollutant on waterways.
  4. Attempt to remove each pollutant using the tongs and strainer.*
  5. Observe which can and cannot be removed.
  6. Discuss ways to prevent pollutants from ever entering the waterways.

*For a more interactive experiment, let the students add and try the remove the pollutants.

 

Erosion and Soil

Overview

  • This experiment demonstrates how different soil coverings can impact the level of erosion that takes place. The different coverings that will be used are bare soil, dead leaves, and plants (grass).

Objective

  • Demonstrate how different soil coverings impact the speed and level of erosion.

Materials

  • Three empty 2-liter soda bottles
  • Three empty water bottles
  • Soil
  • Dead leaves
  • Grass seeds (Rye grass seeds recommended)
  • Water (in a pitcher or jug)
  • String

Instructions/Procedures

  1. Take the three empty water bottles and cut off the top third of the bottle.
  2. Poke or punch two holes near the top and tie some of the string through to create a handle.
  3. With the three 2-liter bottles, cut off one side of the bottle, but be sure to leave the neck of the bottle intact.
  4. Place 2 to 3 inches of soil into each of the three larger bottles.
  5. In one, spread leaves over the entire surface.
  6. In one of the other two bottles, plant grass. (This will have to be done in advance to allow the grass’s roots to develop.)
  7. Situate the three large bottles near the edge of a table/counter and hang the handles on the smaller bottles over the necks of the larger bottles. (The smaller bottles should be a position to catch the overflowing water when poured.)
  8. Have the students predict what the water coming out of each bottle will look like.
  9. Starting with the bare soil bottle, pour water into it until the water overflows into the smaller bottle.
  10. Observe the clarity of the water.
  11. Next, pour water into the bottle with dead leaves covering the soil.
  12. Observe the clarity of the water and how it differs from the first bottle.
  13. Then, pour water into the bottle with grass growing in the soil.
  14. Observe how it differs from the first two bottles.
  15. Discuss why the different soil coverings (or lack of) impact the amount of dirt that is carried out of the bottle by the water.