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        Acid Rock WebQuest

        Acid Mine Drainage and Its Impact on Water Quality

        Lesson Summary


        In this lesson students will learn about the impact of development on the quality of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania. Students will participate in an online inquiry of a real world problem affecting a local community in Pennsylvania. The suggested time frame for this lesson is three to four 50-minute class periods.

        Content Objectives

        Students will know that

        • water quality is affected by economic development
        • there are costs and benefits in cleaning up contaminants
        • there are local and state environmental regulations that impact environmental health
        • multiple perspectives impact decision making on environmental issues

        Process Objectives

        Students will be able to

        • identify the effects of humans and human events on watersheds
        • describe the effects on human health of air, water, and soil pollution and the possible economic costs to society
        • explain the costs and benefits of cleaning up contaminants
        • explain how human practices affect the quality of the water and soil
        • analyze and evaluate changes in the environment that are the result of human activities
        • make judgments about alternative solutions to environmental problems

        Assessment Strategies

        • Individual student position papers
        • Student participation in class discussions
        • Peer assessment on the Acid Rock I-99 inquiry project
        • Evaluation of I-99 debate presentations

        Grade Level: 9-12

        Suggested Time

        Three to Four 50-minute class periods

        Multimedia Resources



        Part I: Introduction to Acid Mine Drainage (1, 50 Minute Class Period)

        1. Begin the lesson by choosing a picture of a stream with orange water from this picture gallery (see images here). Ask students if they know what the orange color represents. Continue with a discussion on mining and its historical significance for the Pennsylvania region and the impact of acid mine drainage.

        2. Show the

        Watershed Associations QuickTime Video

        to the class or have them watch it in small groups on individual computers. Provide each student with the

        Acid Rock Mine Drainage Handout PDF Document

        Have students think about the following and make notes on the handout as they watch the video:

        a. What is acid mine drainage?
        b. What is its impact on the quality of the Susquehanna River?
        c. What is being done to solve the problem?
        d. How long will it take to clean up the river?
        e. What costs are associated with acid mine drainage?
        f. What is your responsibility in keeping waterways from becoming polluted?

        3. After the video have students in small groups discuss the questions for 10-15 minutes and then have a class discussion to share their findings.

        Part II: Acid Rock: I-99 Highway WebQuest (1, 50 Minute Class Period)

        4. Give an overview of WebQuests and have students go to the Acid Rock: I-99 Highway WebQuest. For information on WebQuests visit:

        5. Divide students into groups of 4-5 to collaborate on the WebQuest inquiry. Provide each student with the

        I-99 Handout Problems and Solutions PDF Document

        6. Homework: At the completion of the WebQuest have each student group take on a perspective of one of the stakeholders (government officials, Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, newspaper reporter, local community members) and prepare a position paper reflecting their position. Have the students use the criteria in the WebQuest in completing the position paper.

        Part III: Presentation (1, 50 Minute Class Period)

        7. Use one class period for students to meet as a group and discuss their position on the acid rock issue and synthesize their position papers. Using the position papers, have the students develop a 5-7 minute presentation using PowerPoint or other medium outlining the problem and a viable solution.

        Part IV: Debate (1, 50 Minute Class Period)

        8. Arrange for a town meeting debate of the acid rock issue. Each group will make a 5-7 minute presentation using PowerPoint or other medium outlining the problem and a possible solution.

        9. Have students evaluate the presentations and vote on the most feasible solution to the problem.

        10. Have students do peer evaluations on individual’s effort in the preparation and debate.


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