Let’s investigate the quality of our water by collecting water samples in the garden.

Lesson: Water, Water Everywhere

Level: 4th Grade

Source: The Living Lab Program at the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden


  • SC.4.E.6.3: Earth Structures
  • SC.4.E.6.4: Earth Structures
  • SC.4.L.17.4: Interdependence
  • SC.4.N.1.1: The Practice of Science
  • SC.4.N.1.2: The Practice of Science
  • SC.4.N.1.4: The Practice of Science
  • SC.4.N.1.6: The Practice of Science
  • SC.4.N.1.7: The Practice of Science
  • SC.4.P.10.1: Forms of Energy
  • SC.4.P.10.4: Forms of Energy
  • SC.4.P.8.2: Properties of Matter

Learning Goals: 

  • Students will be able define the terms salinity, turbidity, ph, nitrates, erosion, and deposition.
  • Students will be able to explain the role water plays in erosion and deposition.
  • Students will be able to describe how testing turbidity, ph, nitrates and salinity gives us important information about water sources.

Resources for guided learning: Living Lab Water Lab Book 1


  • Lab Books
  • Writing Utensils
  • iPads
  • Microscopes
  • Turbidity Tubes
  • Ph tests
  • Nitrate tests
  • Hydrometers
  • Water Samples
  • Plastic Bins
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Rocks & Fake Plants
  • Paper
  • Ink & Paint Brushes


Activity 1: Students are given lab books and asked to “warm up their brain” with a Word Splash activity on the field trip topic.

Activity 2: Students form small groups and participate in a scavenger hunt around the garden for water sources. Students take samples from these sources and record location in their lab books.

Activity 3: Students discuss with their small group their predictions for how the water samples will be similar and different.  Groups will then work together to test their water samples and record data in lab books. Students then share findings with the entire large group, compare findings, and discuss any differences.

Activity 4: Students create suminagashi water art as a way to visualize water currents. Beginning with plastic bins, add 2 inches of water. Students pick up ink with paintbrush and gently tap the surface of the water to deposit ink on surface layer. Students then gently use toothpick to create currents in the water. Student rests paper against surface of water to pick up ink and then removes to dry.


You can download and print the lesson plan. Just click on the link.


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