Grade 8

The Grade 8 packages includes 2 series of lessons – the first is focused on Water (series 8a) and the second on Systems (series 8b)

Water, Water Everywhere: Alex and Sam’s Great Canoe Ride

The story arc focuses on the Macro level of Systems and Communities and the package focuses on underwater exploration and oceans (challenges and systems)


8a.01 – The Water Series

As a whole class activity, the students will brainstorm what they already know about water. Students will have an opportunity to list what they know about the relationship between water and the environment, and will identify what they want to learn by writing down a set of questions. This activity will assist the teacher in determining the students’ existing knowledge of the water cycle.

8a.02 – The Way of the Water

This lesson allows the class to explore the many ways that water goes through transformations during the water cycle and how it affects them personally.

8a.03 – What is Your Watershed?

Just like Sam and Alex, your class explores the water sources in their own locale. They also investigate how their activities might impact local water sources

8a.04 – Watershed (Minecraft build)

Using the popular and engaging Minecraft, students create a simulation of their own watershed

8a.05 – Pure Water

Sam and Alex’s journey prompts their curiosity about why and how humans pollute their water sources. In this lesson students watch and learn from a documentary how to take action

8a.06 – Dirty Water

Sam and Alex witness first-hand human waste and effluent pouring into Lake Ontario. Your class will problem-solve and devise ways to purify contaminated water

8a.07 – Minecraft Water Sanitation Plant

Students design and create a (physical or virtual) model of a working water and waste treatment plant. This should show the full process of water being taken from a natural source, treated, distributed to a community, returned to the waste treatment plant for sorting cleaning, and eventually returned to the water source

8a.08 – Access to Fresh Water – UN Article 31

In this lesson students widen their scope beyond the Great Lakes and begin to consider Global water issues.

8a.09 – Solution to Pollution

In this lesson, students will select an issue that needs to be solved (e.g., plastics in the gyres, desalination, bioremediation), and then look at the possible solutions that people have come up with

8a.10 – Water in the Media

How do Sam and Alex find ways to publicize the water dilemma that they have discovered. How does the media handle this?

8a.11 – We All Live Downstream

After lengthy discussions, investigations and various videos, students have gathered information about the importance and scarcity of potable water on our planet. They are now asked to explain what they have learned in a 500-word essay that starts off with the following statement: We all live downstream from someone else…

8b.01 – What is a System?

Sam and Alex are travelling on the Great Lakes, which is a large, natural freshwater system (the largest in the world). Before they start exploring the system, they will need to understand “What is a system.”

8b.02 – What is a Systems Thinker?

As Sam and Alex learn more about the Great Lakes and the complicated system of human and environmental interactions that now define life around the Lakes, they realize that they need to learn new ways to think about complex systems and how they operate.

8b.03 – The Great Lakes: Sewage and Fresh Water?

As Sam and Alex travel along the Great Lakes, they see and smell large sewage treatment plants, as well as water treatment plants. It amazes them that the natural resource from which we draw our drinking water is the same resource into which our sewage and some industrial waste is dumped.

8b.04 – What Systems Help Us Navigate the Great Lakes?

As Sam and Alex proceed along the shores of Lake Ontario, they come upon a natural land feature—the Niagara River and Falls—that acts as a barrier for boat travel between Lakes Ontario and Erie. This piques their interest and they decide to investigate ways in which boating and ship traffic has been enabled in the Great Lakes area.

8b.05 – What is a Closed-Loop System?

Sam and Alex are sightseeing at Niagara Falls. They marvel as the water gushes over the Falls, sending plumes of water vapour into the air. In this inquiry, students will look at the concept of closed-loop systems, and examine how humans have tried to control the water levels on the Great Lakes.

8b.06 – Great Lakes as Power Source?

As Sam and Alex are trekking along the shores of Lake Ontario, they come upon a massive industrial complex (see picture), the purpose of which they are unsure. Their guide, the wolf, informs them that it is a nuclear power plant. The Great Lakes have many nuclear power plants, along with hydroelectric projects. Although neither source of electricity produces greenhouse gases, there can be other negative side effects to these electricity production systems.

8b.07 – Applying Systems Thinking: Wind Turbine

As Sam and Alex continue their journey, they see a wind turbine on the shores of one of the Great Lakes. “What a great idea!” Sam says. “There is always wind blowing off of the lake.”

8b.08 – Analyzing a System: Independent Project

As Sam and Alex travel through the Great Lakes, they are awed by the beauty that they encounter, and yet also worry about the growing threat to the environment. They come to realize that the Earth is a huge, open system, with energy constantly being provided from the Sun, and energy also escaping back into space. Are human behaviours influencing this system?