2. Working in groups to investigate pollution

Because our natural environment can provide us with our livelihoods, you need to encourage your pupils to think about how to preserve the environment so that it continues to provide what we need.

To start your pupils thinking about the damage that is being done to the environment, you can actually show them the harmful effects of pollution. This is what the teacher in Case Study 2 does with her class. Activity 2 shows another way – conducting an experiment to show the effects of polluted water or lack of water on the growth of plants. Once your pupils can see the damage done by pollution, they will be in a better position to develop positive attitudes towards protecting and caring for the environment.

Case Study 2: Using a field trip to explore pollution

Mr John Saleji, the Grade 6 teacher at Kabompo Basic Dongu School, wants to develop his pupils’ awareness of the harmful effects of water pollution. (See Resource 2: Water issues for background information.) He realises that he can do this by taking them on a field trip to the local river, which is littered with rubbish.

At the river, he asks them to make a list of everything they can find that is polluting the water. Once the pupils have done this, they sit on the riverbank and John asks them a series of questions to encourage them to think beyond what they see. For example, he asks them: ‘How many people rely on this river as a water supply?’ ‘What would happen to all those people if the water from the river is contaminated?’ ‘What do they use this water for?’

Back in class, he asks each group to develop a strategy to help clean up the river and its surroundings. As he moves around, listening and helping, he is excited by the plans that they are coming up with. Ideas include involving the community and the school to combat pollution, not only at the river, but in other areas of the village as well. John feels he has achieved his aim of developing an awareness of the harmful effects of water pollution, and is pleased that he has encouraged an attitude of community-mindedness in his pupils as well.

Activity 2: An experiment on pollution

  • To refresh or develop your own knowledge about water issues, read Resource 2. Try this activity yourself beforehand so you can help your pupils better.
  • Ask your pupils to set up the experiment, which will run over five days, described in Resource 3: Maize seed experiment.
  • Then ask each pupil to write down their predictions of what will happen to each seed over the five days.
  • Ask them to check the progress of the three maize seeds every day.
  • Pupils should make a formal record of their daily observations. You should also participate by making and recording observations of your own.
  • On the fifth day, hold a detailed discussion with pupils about whether or not their predictions have been fulfilled. What has happened to each maize seed?
  • Discuss the implications of the experiment in terms of pollution. Can you and your pupils think of other experiments to do around pollution?

1. Exploring local plants

3. Using newspaper articles to stimulate discussion