Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students investigate what happens when people’s activities result in water pollution. Pollution on land is simulated with the addition of easily obtained materials in a clear bowl of water. Students make links with retaining healthy waterways with preventing polluting substances from reaching them.

Key lessons and understandings of activity:

  • Many substances can pollute rivers and other waterways.
  • Governments have restrictions to prevent waterways from becoming polluted.
  • Things that we as individuals do can contribute to pollution if we dispose of things inappropriately.

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 3 English

  • Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning and begin to evaluate texts by drawing on a growing knowledge of context, text structures and language features (ACELY1680)
  • Listen to and contribute to conversations and discussions to share information and ideas and negotiate in collaborative situations (ACELY1676)

Year 3 Science

  • Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE051)

Year 4 English

  • Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning to expand content knowledge, integrating and linking ideas and analysing and evaluating texts (ACELY1692)
  • Interpret ideas and information in spoken texts and listen for key points in order to carry out tasks and use information to share and extend ideas and information (ACELY1687)

Year 4 Science

  • Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE062) 

Syllabus outcomesST2-11LWEN2-1A, EN2-4A, EN2-6B.

Topic: Water

Year levels: 3 and 4

Indoor or outdoor activity: Indoor

Time required: 45+ mins

Learning areas addressed: Science, Geography.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Preparation of activity required, lead the activity, facilitate group discussion.

Resources required: This activity requires considerable preparation – please see the Preparation Sheet under Teacher Worksheet.

Homework and extension opportunities: This activity includes opportunities for extension.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

This activity requires a considerable amount of preparation (see Preparation Sheet below introduction).

You will be reading ‘the story of our river‘ to your students and while you read you will be demonstrating the causes and results of water pollution by pouring various ‘pollutants’ into a tub of water that represents your river.

Introduce topic

Briefly introduce your students to the concept of Australia being the driest inhabited continent.

Discuss with them how, in such a dry place, water is extremely precious and that many ecosystems that already are stressed from lack of water are also under threat of pollution. All of us living within water catchments contribute directly or indirectly, significantly or not so significantly to the degradation of our waterways, often without realising the relationships and impacts that humans make.

Key words

Following this, briefly discuss the meanings of some of the key words that will be raised in this activity. These w

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Student Worksheet

The story of our river

This is the story of a very special river – our river. Our river takes its long journey from the mountains where the rain runs off the slopes and travels a very long way, weaving through cities, towns, valleys and farms until it reaches the sea.

One of the first places our river visits after it has left the mountains is a power station that generates electricity for our region. It burns large quantities of coal and releases pollutant gases into the atmosphere. These pollutants combine with moisture in the atmosphere to produce acid rain. Rainfall carries these acids back to the Earth’s surface where it flows into the river.

The river gathers momentum as it travels down the hills. The river continues its journey towards the sea through farming country where, recently, some crops were fertilised. Afterwards it rained on the farms and the rain run‑off from the fields went straight into our river bringing with it some of the fertiliser.

The farm next door is a p

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