Students in Josie Cancilla-Spadafora’s sixth grade science classroom at Churchville-Chili Middle School recently studied the causes and effects of pollution on ecosystems. The problem became clearer with a demonstration of the different kinds of pollutants and how they reach the water supply.
Students examined chemical and organic fertilizers, and discussed the differences and impact each has on the environment. They understood that, in spite of the toxic damage they can cause, nonorganic products are popular because of low cost, convenience and efficacy.
The class utilized a 3D model representing the Lake Ontario ecosystem to explore how pollutants get into the lake, from fertilizer or manure runoff from farms to gas and oil from cars or chemicals and waste from homes and factories. Students were surprised by how widespread pollution is and how complicated the challenges of controlling it are.
“It’s important that students understand that there are multiple sides to every complex problem,” Cancilla-Spadafora said. “Solutions can be found and these very students may find them. They are learning through this exercise that the difficulties we face will require more creativity, perseverance and effort than just saying, ‘We should do this.’”