Photo: Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Who owns the water of
the Great Lakes?
|research skills, reading comprehension, role playing, debate, decision-making skills|
for Science Education
Earth and Space Sciences
5. Explain how the acquisition and use of resources, urban growth and waste disposal can accelerate natural change and impact the quality of life.
11. Analyze how materials from human societies (e.g., radioactive waste, air pollution) affect both physical and chemical cycles of Earth.
13. Explain how human behavior affects the basic processes of natural ecosystems.
14. Conclude that Earth has finite resources and explain that humans deplete some resources faster than they can be renewed.
6. Describe how scientists estimate how much of a given resource is available on Earth.
Science and Technology
Scientific Ways of Knowing
Length of Activity
|Two or three 50 minute class periods|
Main website (http://www.greatlakesdirectory.org/great_lakes_water_export.htm)
Prior Knowledge Needed
|Familiarity with the Internet; ability to read articles, summarize data and construct a reasonable argument based on those data|
end of this activity, students should be able to:
on Great Lakes Water Export/ Water Diversion/ Great Lakes
Water Privatization/ Dropping Water Levels/Global Water
and others found while researching on the Internet.
|As water resources become depleted because of increases in the human population, the Great Lakes evolve as a site of possible public drinking water supply. Current controversy over the Great Lakes has led to the question, Should this water be privatized and sold for corporate profit or should this water be protected and preserved, with possible future export to those who are dying from lack of access to safe freshwater?|
|The Great Lakes
comprise 20% of world's surface freshwater; 95% of US
For more information, see http://www.greatlakesdirectory.org/great_lakes_water_export.htm for a list of articles concerning water diversion from the Great Lakes.
|1. Have the students
study a map of the Great Lakes. The students should
label the Great Lakes and their major tributaries in
addition to labeling states surrounding the Great Lakes
and Canadian provinces surrounding the Great Lakes.
A great website for a map of the Great Lakes and their
respective tributaries, states, and provinces can be
2. Discuss the issue of water export from the Great Lakes. Stress the following issues/questions:
The main website (http://www.greatlakesdirectory.org/great_lakes_water_export.htm) is a site with a list of articles concerning water diversion from the Great Lakes.
3. As a class, discuss the objectives for the question "Should we export water from the Great Lakes?" Some possible objectives include: relieve areas of drought, increase supply of bottled water, irrigate crops.
4. Give the
students a role/viewpoint to research. This will
develop into a role playing debate/discussion. Depending
on your class size, this could be done individually or in
small groups. Give students the
Give students thestudent worksheet to keep track of their Internet research.
The following are
some suggested roles/viewpoints. As a class, brainstorm
to come up with ideas about what types of
roles/viewpoints should be represented in the discussion.
Who has a stake in this question? Once a list has been
created, assign viewpoints to individuals or small
groups. Be sure to assign a good variety of
As a class, brainstorm to come up with ideas about what types of roles/viewpoints should be represented in the discussion. Who has a stake in this question? Once a list has been created, assign viewpoints to individuals or small groups. Be sure to assign a good variety of roles/viewpoints!
the students to search for articles and information
concerning their particular viewpoint. The
following websites will be useful as starters in
their search. Students should use student worksheets to record locations and points that support
6. Once research has been completed for each role/viewpoint, have students present the viewpoint and supporting information they have found. Each student should use the table on the student worksheets to take notes on the different roles/viewpoints.
7. As a class, make a decision on whether to export water from the Great Lakes or not to export water from the Great Lakes. Prompt the students to debate their researched role/viewpoint with the class, be sure students argue from their assigned role/viewpoint.
8. Ask the students to weigh the viewpoints. Which argument would take precedence over another argument (would the legislator or the environmentalist have more weight in the decision-making process?).
|After discussing the
class decision, have the students reassess their value on
each viewpoint. Encourage them to alter any values
they may have. Would this change in value alter the
final decision? Why or why not?
participation should be counted as a large part of the
assessment. Click here for some great web resources on creating
rubrics for use in the classroom.
|Compare the types of information found in different types of publications (e.g. newspaper articles vs. Great Lakes dedicated Internet sites, or local Great Lakes papers vs. national papers). Discuss how and why viewpoints differ. Consider the sources of information in the articles, the author(s), the geographic region the paper/site is based, water needs in the area, dates articles were written and possible links to weather conditions at the time (drought, water logged, etc.). Can you find cases of the same scientific information being used to support differing opinions?|
References and Resources
Articles (others should be found while researching on Internet)
State University School of Natural Resources, 2003
Web assistance by Ann Froschauer
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Making Activities for the Great Lakes,
Who Owns the Great Lakes?
Developed by the Ohio Sea Grant Education Program, The Ohio State University. © 2003