Middle School Resources

Students and teacher about to use the Hydrolab at the edge of the large river.
Photo Credit: John Barnes

Middle school students and teacher preparing to deploy a Hydrolab. 

This page provides data sheets, lesson plans, teaching resources, and NGSS connections that can support water quality investigations with middle school students. For questions about these educational resources or to share your own lessons with the Limno Loan community, please contact IISG’s Great Lakes educator.


Pond Survey Day

Grade: 8

Time to Complete: 5 class periods

This multi-day lesson plan was developed by a Limno Loan educator. The lesson leads students through the collection of limnological and ecological data in a pond ecosystem to determine its overall health. The students can add their data to larger sets of data to compare their pond to a Great Lake or ocean.

FLOW: Fisheries Learning on the Web

Grades: 4–8

Time to Complete: 1–3 hours

This series of five lessons is from Fisheries Learning on the Web and was developed by Michigan Sea Grant. The first two activities allow students to predict, observe, and explain the movement of water. Lessons 3 and 4 discuss the relative availability of freshwater on the planet and why water quality is so important. In the final lesson, students have an opportunity to make their own decisions concerning water quality, land use, and the environment.

Determining Water Quality

Grades: 4–8

Time to complete: 1 hour

This NGSS-aligned activity from Michigan Sea Grant helps students think about different ways to determine water quality. Students make observations and measurements of several water samples.

Dissolved Oxygen and Lake Stratification

Grades: 5–7

Time to complete: 1–3 hours

This NGSS-aligned lesson is composed of two activities that allow students to explore thermal stratification and dissolved oxygen levels by graphing water quality data from Lake Erie.

Next Generation Science Standards

There are many ways the Limno Loan program can support NGSS. This is one example for middle school water quality investigations.

Related Performance Expectations

MS-LS2 Ecosystems Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics:

  • MS-LS2-1: Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
  • MS-LS2-4: Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems. Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors. (MS-LS2-1)
  • LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience. Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; their characteristics can vary over time. Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations. (MS-LS2-4)
  • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. (MS-LS2-1)
  • Science disciplines share common rules of obtaining and evaluating empirical evidence. (MS-LS2-4)

• Cause and Effect. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems. (MS-LS2-1)
• Stability and Change. Small changes in one part of a system might cause large changes in another part. (MS-LS2-4)

Science Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence: Science disciplines share common rules of obtaining and evaluating empirical evidence. (MS-LS2-4)

Students will be using water quality equipment to investigate water quality parameters in the field. Students will collect data using a sampling protocol. Students can graph and read water quality data and then examine the relationship between two or more parameters.

Students will learn that water quality parameters can be used to examine the interrelationship between these variables and how they shape the physical, chemical and biological components of the water body being studied. Aquatic ecosystem populations can be impacted by changes in water quality parameters.

Waterbodies can be described by their chemical and physical properties. These parameters are measured in standard units and can change over time. Changes to one water quality parameter can affect another parameter. The health of the water body can impact the ecosystem as a whole.

Students can interpret data products generated to investigate their water quality research question. Students can use these data interpretations to construct an argument about how water quality can impact an ecosystem.

Teaching Resources

Data Sheets

The following data sheets are from fellow Limno Loan educators and can be downloaded and revised to fit your needs.

Microsoft Word: 

Google Docs:

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.

Two students and a teacher preparing to deploy a water quality data sonde at the edge of a large river.
Photo Credit: John Barnes