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Topics Explored: Hydrologic Cycle, Carry Capacity, Watershed, Sustainability, Urbanization, Renewable Resource, Hydroelectricity, Point and Nonpoint Sources, Impact on Aquatic Ecosystems, Effects of Fertilizers, Eutrophication, Fracking, Pathogens, Sewage Treatment

This case study discusses the management and use of available freshwater, and explores potential solutions for a global water crisis.    Answer key included.

Case Study: Water (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:
    1.7 Explain the steps and reservoir interactions in the hydrologic cycle.
    3.4 Describe carrying capacity. Describe the impact of carrying capacity on ecosystems.
    3.5 Explain how resource availability affects population growth.
    3.8 Explain how human populations experience growth and decline. 
    4.6 Describe the characteristics of a watershed.
    5.5 Describe different methods of irrigation. Describe the benefits and drawbacks of different methods of irrigation.
    5.10 Describe the effects of urbanization on the environment.
    5.12 Explain the concept of sustainability.
    5.13 Describe methods for mitigating problems related to urban runoff. 
    6.1 Identify the differences between nonrenewable and renewable energy resources.
    6.9 Describe the use of hydroelectricity in power generation. Describe the effects of the use of hydroelectricity in power generation on the environment. 
    8.1 Identify differences between point and nonpoint sources.
    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 Explain human pathogens and their cycling through the environment. 

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

    IB® Environmental Systems Learning Objectives:
    2.5.4 Describe and explain the transfer and transformation of materials as they cycle within an ecosystem.
    2.6.1 Explain the concepts of limiting factors and carrying capacity in the context of population growth.
    3.2.1 Explain the concept of resources in terms of natural income.
    3.2.2 Define the terms renewable, replenishable and non-renewable natural capital. 
    3.2.5 Explain the concept of sustainability in terms of natural capital and natural income.
    3.6.1 Describe the Earth’s water budget. 
    3.6.2 Describe and evaluate the sustainability of freshwater resource usage with reference to a case study.
    3.8.5 Describe and explain the relationship between population, resource consumption and technological development, and their influence on carrying capacity and material economic growth.
    5.1.2 Distinguish between the terms point source pollution and non-point source pollution, and outline the challenges they present for management.
    5.1.2 State the major sources of pollutants.
    5.2.2 Define the term biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and explain how this indirect method is used to assess pollution levels in water. 
    5.4.1 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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