All Subjects
      All Types




        Permitted Use

        Part of WPSU
        16 Favorites

        Raising the pH

        Passive Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage

        Lesson Summary


        In this lesson students will explore the concept of watersheds and how the reclamation of abandoned coal mines in Pennsylvania improves water quality. The suggested time frame for this lesson plan is three to four 50-minute class periods.

        Content Objectives

        Students will know that

        • mining operations leave toxic metals (sulfides) which affect the water supply
        • active and passive treatments are being used to clean toxic metals from acid mine drainage
        • bacteria can be used to neutralize the effects of acid mine drainage and raise the pH in water from the abandoned mine sites through a chemical process

        Process Objectives

        Students will be able to

        • describe the effects of abandoned mine drainage
        • create a chemical formula to explain the sulfate reduction process
        • diagram the components of a passive treatment system
        • assess the value of passive treatment systems

        Assessment Strategies

        • Evaluation of participation in class discussions
        • Observation of student’s participation in group work
        • Poster presentation on abandoned mine reclamation

        Grade Level: 6-8

        Suggested Time

        Three to four 50-minute class periods

        Multimedia Resources



        Part I: Introduction to Watersheds (1, 50 Minute Class Period)

        1. Begin the lesson by showing two glasses of water (one from a polluted stream or swamp and one from the tap water at the school). Ask the students which glass of water is contaminated, why they think it is contaminated, and what may have caused the contamination. Have a discussion about where their water comes from (city water, a well, etc.) and what is done to make it drinkable.

        2. Next talk about watersheds and how they affect water supply. Divide the students into groups of 4 or 5. Provide each group with the Watershed Discussion handout in

        Rasing the pH Word Document

        and the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) "Monitoring Our Rivers and Streams" Have the students Locate Your Watershed.

        3. Give the students 25 minutes for discussion on the questions below. Each group should identify a recorder to take notes and have the group prepared to share what they talked about.

        What is the watershed like that surrounds your school/community?
        What factors affect your water quality? (economic development, mining, pollution, etc.)
        What can be done to reduce our impact on watersheds?

        4. Conclude the discussion by having students share their conclusions with the class by writing major ideas on a poster size paper for each group to hang in the classroom and wrap up by asking what can be done about pollution of water in their watershed.

        Part II: Water Treatment Methods (1, 50 Minute Class Period)

        5. Begin the lesson by reviewing the previous discussion on water pollution in the watershed and how water is treated to make it safe to drink.

        6. Introduce the

        Underground Stream Water Treatment Systems QuickTime Video

        on acid mine drainage at Fran’s coal mine by talking about the mining industry in Pennsylvania. Talk about the number of abandoned mines in the state and one that might be near your community.

        (Pennsylvania has more than 250,000 acres of abandoned mine lands, r efuse banks, old mine shafts and other relics of past mining in 45 of our 67 counties – more than any other state in the nation.)

        Share the

        Underground Stream Water Treatment Systems QuickTime Video

        either as a group or have students view it on individual computers. As the students are watching the video ask them to record some thoughts or questions they have to begin a dialogue relating to how economic development has impacted our current water supply. (After viewing the video you may also schedule a field trip to an abandoned mine site if one is nearby.)
        Resource: Acid Mine Drainage Education

        7. Have students visit the EPA web site to look for information on contaminants in drinking water: EPA Site for Contaminants in Drinking Water or History of Drinking Water Treatment

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

        8. Have students develop a poster presentation on abandoned mine reclamation of one of the mine sites in Pennsylvania using the information from thePennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection site

        9. While at the site have the students informally share the data they have collected and discuss whether the stream/river/creek is polluted and why.

        Part IV: Group Poster Presentations (1 or 2, 50 Minute Class Periods)

        10. Student groups present the results of their data collection on how abandoned mines are being reclaimed.


        You must be logged in to use this feature

        Need an account?
        Register Now