Water Borne Diseases: They Will Make You Sick!
Students will gain an idea as to various pollutants which can
contaminate our water and an appreciation of the different water borne diseases that can infect humans if our water is not kept clean.

1) With the use of an in-class demonstration, students will brainstorm some ways that our drinking water can become contaminated with pollutants.
2) Working in groups, students will research different water borne diseases that infect humans and report their findings back to the larger class.

Copies of lesson outline for each student

Fish tank


Pollutants such as salt, car motor oil, food dyes, scraps of paper, soil, leaves, old shoes, and coffee grounds

Fact sheets on cholera, giardia, cryptosporidiosis, hepatitis A

Poster board




For this lesson students should be issued a "lesson outline".
This outline, numbered Roman numeral I-III should be filled out by students as the lesson progresses. For example, numeral I would require students to define pollution; numeral II would ask students to list three ways in which water is polluted; and numeral III would ask students to list and describe four water borne diseases that infect humans.

Steps of the lesson plan:
1) Begin the lesson by asking the student to define pollution.
*As suitable answers are generated Roman numeral I can be filled in by class.

2) Next, generate from the class what they believe pollutes our water.

*As answers are generated Roman numeral II can be filled in.

3) Emphasize this point by "polluting" a fish tank which has been filled with clean water.
To start, place a fish tank of clean water in front of the class. Ask students if they could (not if they want to) drink the water. The answer should be ‘yes’. Then ask them what kind of pollutants can contaminate water like in the
Chesapeake Bay. Pollutants can be represented by such household products as salt, car motor oil, food dyes, scraps of paper, soil, leaves, old shoes, or coffee grounds.
These should be added as students express their ideas as to what pollutes their water. A dramatic effect will be achieved as students see their water "polluted" before their eyes.

4) The teacher should then ask students if they want to drink the water. After students shout, ‘No!’ ask them ‘why not?’ Students should respond ‘because they will get sick.’

5) Explain to students that for the rest of the period, we are going to learn about 4 different water borne diseases that can make humans sick. Divide students into 4 groups of 4-5 students. One member from each group should come get a piece of poster board, markers, scissors, glue and an information sheet. There are four fact sheets representing four different water borne diseases including cholera, giardia, cryptosporidiosis, and Hepatitis A.

6) In their groups, students should read their fact sheet. They should then paste a picture of the microbe that causes their disease at the top of the poster board. Using the information from their fact sheet they should answer the following questions:
a) What is the name of the disease?
b) What is the name of the microbe that causes the disease?
c) What are the symptoms of the disease?
d) How is the disease transmitted? e) How can the disease be treated/prevented?
They should write both the questions and answers on their poster board.

7) After the groups are finished, one member from each group should come to the front of the class with their poster board and report back to the other students the results of their research. Students should use this information to complete Roman numeral III on their lesson plan outline.

8) Summarize the lesson by emphasizing to students that polluted water can cause us to get sick with a number of diseases that can sometimes be fatal. Explain that tomorrow we are going to learn some ways to clean water so that we can safely drink it.


Fact sheets were developed from information available on the CDC’s website www.cdc.gov

State Standards
1.5.2- The student will explain scientific concepts and processes through drawing, writing, and/or oral communication.
1.5.6- The student will read a technical selection and interpret it appropriately.
3.5.3- The student will investigate how natural and man-made changes in environmental conditions will affect individual organisms and the dynamics of populations.
6.3.2- The student will evaluate the interrelationship between humans and water quality and quantity. At least — fresh water supply point source/nonpoint source pollution waste water treatment thermal pollution Chesapeake Bay and its watershed eutrophication human health
Lesson Resources
Fact sheet on cholera
Fact sheet on cryptosporidiosis
Fact sheet on giardia
Fact sheet on Hepatitis A
Lesson outline to be completed by students