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Water Treatment Plant

With every person in the United States producing approximately 150 gallons of wastewater a day, the treatment of water becomes very important for our health and the health of our planet.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Wastewater is a technical term for dirty water. We use lots of water everyday for many things. And we are not the only ones using it, think about how water might be used by factories and large institutions like hospitals and schools. Do you think that this water can just be released into the ground or a natural body of water? Think about the repercussions of that scenario.
    2. Research what parts make up a wastewater treatment plant. Determine the size and location of a fictitious town in need of a treatment plan. Identify its wastewater needs. Present these givens in a report. Understand the role of such components of the plan as screens and grit chamber, settling and aeration tank, digester and clarifier, dewater and chlorination chambers.
    3. Illustrate your design for the report using Crayola® Metallic Colored Pencils on graph paper. Determine the placement of the various units as well as the relative size of each component. Make sure the size is capable of handling the amount of wastewater your town produces. Include your diagrams in your report.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    LA: Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

    MATH: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.

    SCI: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

    SS: Describe and speculate about physical system changes, such as seasons, climate and weather, and the water cycle.

    SS: Explore causes, consequences, and possible solutions to persistent, contemporary, and emerging global issues, such as pollution and endangered species.

    SS: Identify and describe examples in which science and technology have changed the lives of people, such as in homemaking, childcare, work, transportation, and communication.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Flush!: Treating Wastewater (Carolrhoda Photo Books) by Karen Mueller Coombs; How Water Works: An Interactive CD by AWWA Staff

    Organize a field trip to a local wastewater treatment plant to see the system in action. Prior to the trip, students write questions for the wastewater treatment worker. Afterwards, students post learning to a class blog.

    How is wastewater handled in other countries? Students investigate systems in affluent countries such as Germany, Sweden, etc. and compare treatment procedures with poor countries. What challenges to systems are posed by neighborhoods and large cities that are built below sea level? How do desert communities deal with wastewater treatment challenges?

    Students investigate how other types of waste are handled in their community. Invite a local expert to visit with the class and share the community's plan for waste treatment. Students write questions for the expert. After the meeting, students post learning to a class blog.


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  • Creativity.
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  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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