A WebQuest for High School Biology Students

By Scott A. Fields

| Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion |


DON'T DRINK THE WATER!!! Hundreds of people in your community have already become ill from unknowingly consuming microbe-infested H2O! Now you are among those responsible for curing their sickness and preventing this disease from becoming an epidemic. It's a challenge, but it's one that you must accept--and one that your friends and neighbors know you will achieve for the sake of your town's health and well-being. First, you and your co-investigators must identify and classify the microorganism that has contaminated the town's drinking water supply. Then, you will need to propose and test an environment-friendly biological remedy for this problematic situation. Your community anxiously awaits your successful solution!

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HERE YOU COME TO SAVE THE DAY! What is this dreadful bug that has infiltrated your drinking water? You need to find out, so that you can come up with an efficient and effective antidote. The treatment you suggest must be supported by scientific research data--otherwise, the local government will turn up its nose (in spite of the fact that its members are writhing on the floor in gastrointestinal pain)! Using your proposal as your hypothesis, your research team will design a controlled experiment whose results should underscore the usefulness of your plan. Upon publication and acceptance of your findings, you will become hometown heroes--and celebrated as such by your local television personalities!

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STEP ONE: Identify the microorganism that is responsible for your community's distress.

STEP TWO: Propose an environment-friendly method to eradicate the guilty microbe. (In other words, state your hypothesis.)

STEP THREE: Test your plan for effectiveness. (Design and conduct an experiment that will support your hypothesis.)

STEP FOUR: "Sell" your solution to your community and its leaders. (Write a scientific laboratory report and present an oral summary to the class.)

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As if the health of your friends and neighbors weren't enough, your teacher also will grade you on the following criteria:

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Now you have seen that viruses, bacteria, protists, and fungi may be beneficial or detrimental--those that are waterborne pathogens certainly can lead to some serious situations for public health.  The appropriate reaction to such dire circumstances should not always be to "go get the strongest chemicals you can find!"  As young scientists like yourself continue to learn more about aquatic habitats, the critters who live there, and the ways in which they interact with one another, people will be better equipped to handle biological emergencies in more natural ways that do minimal harm to the world's precious ecosystems.  There probably will always be new innovative methods to try--perhaps you really will be the next medical legend!!!

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Page last updated 4/29/01.