Curriculum Ideas

Engaging in water quality investigations provides an opportunity for hands-on learning and can foster environmental stewardship. Use the tabs below to explore resources that can help you get the most out of your time with the water quality monitoring equipment.

The following steps can help you implement Limno Loan materials to bring the topic of water quality to life.

1. Find a local waterway.

Use How’s My Waterway?, created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to find a local body of water to study. This interactive website can also help you explore and visualize water quality data and determine the health of local waterbodies. 

2. Determine the driving question(s).

  • How can we determine the water quality of a local waterway?
  • What factors impact the health of local waterway?
  • Does water quality impact the survival of living things?
  • What are the threats to water quality in our community?
  • How is water quality affected when human activity changes an ecosystem? 
  • How do we reduce human impacts on our local waterways?
  • What happens to ecosystems when the environment changes?
  • How can long-term water monitoring efforts inform local decision makers?

3. Determine the types of data will you collect.

  • Physical: temperature, water depth, conductivity, turbidity, or Secchi disk visibility
  • Chemical: pH, dissolved oxygen, or chlorophyll a
  • Biological: macroinvertebrates or plankton
  • Habitat: site assessment of the riparian zone, water appearance, or rate of flow.

4. Determine who will use the data.

5. Use your monitoring activities to engage with the local community.

  • Visit to find a database of government-wide citizen (community) science projects. 
  • Search SciStarter, a database of projects that allows you to contribute to the larger scientific community. 
  • Explore the EPA StoryMap on Participatory Science to learn from communities directly engaged in science to address local environmental concerns. Supporting resources and tools for communities are shared.

6. Find implementation support.

  • Contact your local Sea Grant program. In every state connected to the Great Lakes, Sea Grant educators work to support basin-wide stewardship.
  • The NOAA Great Lakes Bay Watershed Education and Training program, known as B-WET, funds locally relevant, authentic experiential learning for K–12 students and educators through Meaningful Watershed Experiences.
  • Contact your local soil and water conservation district, county extension, or state environmental education association to help you identify potential funding and partnership opportunities.

Are you ready to dive into water quality investigations? The following resources can support lesson planning, data collection, and learner engagement.   


Select a grade level to find example lessons and activities created by Limno Loan educators. We welcome your submission of lesson plans that you developed for the Limno Loan program!

Data Collection

Choose a data collection method. The following examples of water-quality datasheets are from fellow Limno Loan educators and can be revised to fit your needs.

Microsoft Word: 

Google Docs:

Digital Games

These ready-to-use digital games can help increase familiarity with water quality vocabulary.  

Limnology Crossword

Review limnology vocabulary with this interactive crossword that is aimed at 8th-12th grade learners. 

Water Quality Quiz

Designed for 9th-12th grade learners, this quiz explores the physical and chemical and some of the biological variables that are used to understand water quality.

Parameter Word Search

This word search was created for 4th-6th grade learners to introduce the seven water quality parameters measured by a Hydrolab.


Auxiliary Materials

Support learning and understanding of water quality parameters with the following tools.

Water Quality Parameters Primer 

Each aquatic habitat is different, but this chart can be used as a generalized guide to assist students in interpreting ideal data ranges, danger readings, and causes of and remedies for water pollution.

Water Quality Flashcards 

These simple cards outline each of the seven water quality parameters that the Limno Loan program can help you measure. They can be printed and folded in half to create a set of flashcards that students can use in cooperative learning groups.

Explore these external resources to support your water quality investigations.

GLOBE Resources

The GLOBE Program’s Hydrophere data-collection protocols and learning activities can be used to enhance student’s understanding of Earth’s natural waters.  


This community of data collectors uploads their school’s water quality data to our Great Lakes Limno Loan FieldScope project. Once you join the project you can track and map your data and create visualizations.

Urban Water Cycle GLLee

Great Lakes Literacy education exploration (GLLee) opportunities is a free introductory collection of resources presented in three easy steps to help teachers and youth explore Great Lakes Literacy through place-based education and stewardship opportunities in your school and community. The Urban water cycle GLLee explores water used by communities, including the stages of collection, transportation, storage, purification, distribution and delivery, and return to natural bodies of water.

Limnology Virtual Field Trip

This activity includes video of Ohio Sea Grant limnologists working on Lake Erie. Teachers learn exactly how to share this lesson with students. A jigsaw strategy is used to increase student engagement and many additional resources are provided.

NOAA Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience

The Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) is a learner-centered framework that focuses on investigations into local environmental issues and leads to informed action. Using the MWEE framework helps educators create an engaging program to achieve their learning objectives (i.e., the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students should be able to exhibit following instruction).


Students in stream collecting data.
Photo Credit: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Great Lakes Literacy

Great Lakes literacy is an understanding of the Great Lakes’ influences on you and your influence on the Great Lakes. Eight principles have been outlined to describe science content and processes related to the Great Lakes.

  1. The Great Lakes, bodies of fresh water with many features, are connected to each other and to the world ocean.
  2. Natural forces formed the Great Lakes; the lakes continue to shape the features of their watershed.
  3. The Great Lakes influence local and regional weather and climate.
  4. Water makes Earth habitable; fresh water sustains life on land.
  5. The Great Lakes support a broad diversity of life and ecosystems.
  6. The Great Lakes and humans in their watersheds are inextricably interconnected.
  7. Much remains to be learned about the Great Lakes.
  8. The Great Lakes are socially, economically, and environmentally significant to the region, the nation and the planet.

Learn more about the principles on the Center for Great Lakes Literacy website