Educational Resources – Learning Activities
The following activities allow students to learn about acid deposition in new and interactive ways—both in and out of the classroom:
Individuals and Small Groups
- Write, produce, and direct a special segment for a TV “weather special” on the effect of weather patterns on the travel of acid rain over large distances. Contact the weather bureau or a local television station's weather department to ask about the wind patterns in your area.
- Contact a local natural resource specialist from your local zoo or park and ask that person to tell you about the impact, if any, of both acid rain and dry deposition in the lakes, forests, or other natural resources in your area. (An alternative to this would be for the class to invite a specialist to come and speak on this topic.) Write down what you have learned in a report to be given to the teacher or read to the class.
- Contact your local power company. Many power companies use more than one source of power to make enough electricity for the community. Some also buy electricity from other power companies. Ask the power company which is its primary source (for example, hydroelectric, nuclear, gas, oil, or coal) and what other sources it uses. If they can tell you, find out what percent of their output is generated by each source. If your company buys from other companies, ask if they know what source generates that company's electricity. Write down your results in a report to be read to the class.
- Locate or list energy efficient buildings in your community. Contact a local architect or an architecture department in a local college or university and invite an architect to visit your classroom to describe how homes, schools, and office buildings can use energy more efficiently.
- Find out if your drinking water is being treated for acidity. Call or visit the water company. First determine the source of your water—well, lake, or river. If you have a private source of water such as your own well, ask your parents if the water is treated, and if so, how it is treated. When talking to a water company, usually a city or county water authority, ask if and how they treat the water for acidity. Ask them to tell you the pH of the water before it is treated and the pH after it is treated. Is it completely neutralized? Write down their answers in a report to give to the teacher or read to the class.
- Collect acid rain and air pollution cartoons from newspapers and magazines. Display and discuss them.
- Imagine that you are a scientist. Think about a research project to investigate some aspect of acid rain—how it forms, the damage it does, etc. Write your ideas on the board. Discuss the questions you would ask and the steps you would take to do the research. If possible, invite a local research scientist to the classroom to review your project and comment on it.
- Role playing. Each student takes the role of an “interested party” (for example, a fish, bird, coal miner, factory owner, smokestack, fisherman, farmer, stream, lake, tree, or forester) in a group discussion on acid rain. Talk about the effects acid rain has on your character and then present arguments for or against laws to control acid rain.
- Visit a nearby science center or museum of science. Request information on educational programs for acid rain. Look for exhibits that relate to the causes and effects of acid rain and how acid rain travels (weather). Note: if there is no such museum nearby, write to the nearest one and request information on educational programs or their exhibits that deal with acid rain and its effects.
- Visit a local cemetery and observe the wearing away of the headstones or other grave markers over time. Military cemeteries use limestone markers that are more easily affected by acid rain than the granite markers in some private cemeteries. Can you tell by the dates on the marker stones and the condition of the stones which ones acid rain may have damaged? Remember that these materials would naturally deteriorate when exposed to the weather and rain (even clean rain). Acid rain would accelerate this damage.