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Iowa has a lot of nonpoint source pollution that contributes to killing mass amounts of marine life in many different bodies of water.

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • How do nutrients in Iowa influence local and national water quality? 
  • How does a watershed play a role in water pollution?
  • Are nutrients in an ecosystem bad?
  • What solutions do you think will be the most effective at lowering our nutrient levels, while still maintaining food production demand?

Classroom Suggestions

  • First, the class will need to fully understand the problem. 
    • An excessive amount of nutrients is causing water quality issues in Iowa and downriver from Iowa.
    • This is a nonpoint source of pollution, primarily coming from agriculture, but not exclusively.
  • Next, have the students learn more science behind the problem.
    • The nitrogen cycle 
    • The importance of nutrients in an ecosystem
    • Eutrophication (an excess of nutrients)
  • Finally, have students learn strategies for lowering nutrient levels.
    • Wetlands
    • Buffer Strips
    • Bioreactor
    • Redesign watershed.
    • Sediment ponds.
    • etc.

Related Resources

Iowa Core Alignment

Earth and Space Science
Disciplinary Core Idea
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity

Credit Info


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