Let's Experiment!

3, 4, 5

The purpose of this lesson is to begin an investigation of the state of the environment and observe the effects of pollution on it. The students begin to strategize about their responsibility to be environmentalists.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne and One-Half Hour Class Period

The learner will:

  • conduct scientific experiments to determine the effects of air, water and land pollution.
  • work cooperatively with peers.
  • predict and observe outcomes.
  • read facts about air, water and land pollution.
  • Student copies of the song from “Pocahontas” ( Attachment One: “Colors of the Wind”)
  • A supply of materials needed to do the experiments selected from Attachment Two: Pollution Experiments
  • Multiple copies (one per student per experiment) of Attachment Three: Recording Results
  • Student copies of Attachment Four: Facts About Pollution
  • Student folders for gathering materials, optional
  • Student copies of Attachment Five: Homework
Home Connection 

Send home copies of Lesson Three, Attachment Five: Homework . The students answer the questions with the help of their families and return the questions the following day.

  • Audio CD. Pocahontas, 2001. Disney. Colors of the Wind . ASIN: B000001M2I
  • Bellamy, David. How Green Are You? Frances Lincoln, 1991. ISBN:0711206791
  • Environmental Defense Web site http://www.scorecard.org/
  • Harlow, Rose. Pollution and Waste: Environmental Facts and Experiments. Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002. ISBN: 0753455056
  • Maze, Stephanie. I Want to Be An Environmentalist. San Diego: Harcourt, Inc., 2000. ISBN: 015201862x


  1. Anticipatory Set:Distribute Attachment One: “Colors of the Wind.” Ask the students to listen to the song as they read the words. Ask the students how this song applies to the Native American traditional belief of Mother Earth and everyone's responsibility to protect the environment. Encourage use of the vocabulary words, particularly stewardship from Lesson One: “Mother Earth” - Past during the discussion.Teacher Note: Prior to this lesson you will need to have all the supplies for the experiments set up in a central location. Some of the experiments (Numbers I, II, and III) depend on sunny or rainy weather. You may need to wait for the appropriate weather for the students to do these. Student folders in which to keep the experiment recording forms will be helpful.

  2. Explain that the students will be doing experiments to investigate pollution and its effects. They will be observing the results over the next few days.

  3. Tell the students that some of the experiments they are able to do today will depend on the weather being sunny or rainy. Distribute Attachment Two: Pollution Experiments and divide the class into the number of experiments you have chosen to do. Assign each group one experiment to set up or have each group set up all the experiments (depending on the time and amount of equipment available).

  4. Give the students copies of Attachment Three: Recording Results (one per student per experiment) and ask them to answer questions one and two for each of the experiments. These first two questions are predictions and should be done before the experiments are observed.

  5. Distribute Attachment Four: Facts about Pollution and read and discuss it as a class. Ask the students if they want to change or add to their predictions (Questions one and two on Attachment Three ) for each experiment based on this new information. Allow them to make the changes.

  6. Have the students observe all of the experiments and draw and/or write their observations for “Day One” in question three of Attachment Three . (The remaining questions will be addressed in subsequent lessons.)


Teacher observation of cooperative experiment groups and class discussion. Day One predictions on Attachment Three: Recording Results.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Define stewardship and give examples.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.