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Topics Explored: Point and Non-Point Source of Pollution, Human Impact on Aquatic Ecosystems, Sewage Treatment, Human Pathogens

This case study explores the historic event of the Great Stink in 1858 where raw sewage polluted the River Thames and created an environmental and human health crisis. From this we describe in detail modern day wastewater management methods.  Answer key included.

Case Study: The Great Stink (Teacher & Student Edition)

  • ZIP file containing 2 PDF files 
    (1 Teacher Edition and 1 Student Edition)

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):
    HS-LS2-1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
    HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
    HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    HS-ESS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
    HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.

    AP® Environmental Science Learning Objectives:
    8.1 Identify differences between point and nonpoint sources of pollution.
    8.2 Describe the impacts of human activities on aquatic ecosystems.
    8.5 Explain the environmental effects of excessive use of fertilizers and detergents on aquatic ecosystems.
    8.11 Describe best practices in sewage treatment.
    8.14 Identify sources of human health issues that are linked to pollution.
    8.15 Explain human pathogens and their cycling through the environment. Cholera is a bacterial disease that is contracted from infected water.


    AP® Environmental Science Practices:
    Practice 1: Explain environmental concepts, processes, and models presented in written format. 
    Practice 2: Analyze visual representations of environmental concepts and processes. 
    Practice 3: Analyze sources of information about environmental issues.  
    Practice 4: Analyze research studies that test environmental principles.  
    Practice 5: Analyze and interpret quantitative data represented in tables, charts, and graphs.
    Practice 6: Apply quantitative methods to address environmental concepts.
    Practice 7: Propose and justify solutions to environmental problems.


    IB® Environmental Systems Learning Objectives:  
    5.1.1 Define the term pollution.
    5.1.2 Distinguish between the terms point source pollution and nonpoint source pollution, and outline the challenges they present for management.
    5.3.1 Outline approaches to pollution management.
    5.3.2 Discuss the human factors that affect the approaches to pollution management.
    5.2.1 Describe two direct methods of monitoring pollution.
    5.2.2 Define the term biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and explain how this indirect method is used to assess pollution levels in water.
    5.2.3 Describe and explain an indirect method of measuring pollution levels using a biotic index.
    5.4.1 Outline the processes of eutrophication.
    5.4.2 Evaluate the impacts of eutrophication.
    5.4.3 Describe and evaluate pollution management strategies with respect to eutrophication. 


    AP® is a registered trademark registered by the College Board®. IB® is a trademark registered by the International Baccalaureate Organization®. This work/product/service has been developed independently from and is not endorsed by the College Board® or the International Baccalaureate Organization®. 

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