Environmental Resource Guide (ERG) Activities
Explained in terms of Minnesota's Profile of Learning

Grades 6-8

Standards which can be met in part through ERG activities (described on this page):

Key to Format

  • The standards themselves are printed in italics.
  • Lesson titles are printed in bold. Each grade's K-8 activity appears immediately following the portion of the standard to which the activity most directly relates.
    <1> = Strong, direct connection to the standard.
    <2> = Must add to or modify the activity for a strong connection to the standard.
    *** = Provides essential background students need to complete the standard.

Grades 6-8 Inquiry
Students could meet one or more of the Inquiry standards through these activities if the teacher makes sure students follow the necessary steps for framing research designs. ERG activities offer a stepping off point in choosing a topic for student research required to meet the standard.

Grades 6-8 Living Systems
A student shall demonstrate knowledge of interactions and interdependence of living systems by understanding the human body, including heredity, reproduction, and regulation and behavior; plants, animals, and microorganisms including diversity and adaptation of organisms, and populations and ecosystems; and the dynamic effect of humans interacting with the environment by:

Background Activities for the Living Systems Standard

*** Water Pollution Detectives - page 5
Define source and nonpoint source pollution. Describe pollution sources. Identify ways to minimize pollution.
Recommended Adaptations:
This activity gives students background to formulate a question on what problems to consider in their communities (See Follow-Up). For I-B under "Setting the Stage," allow a couple of weeks to gather slides or pictures. Extension - could be done on the Internet.

*** Seeping Septic Tanks - page 41
Construct and observe models of septic tanks.
Recommended Adaptations:
This activity gives students solid background to help them identify research questions. It would also allow students to demonstrate knowledge of interactions and interdependence of what happens in septic tanks and water quality. A good small group activity. City students could base this on what goes on at a cabin or some suburban home owners have septic tanks. Do Follow-Up and Extension activities. Call or check the Internet to see how septic tanks are regulated by the state, county, or Watershed District.


1. formulating questions to be answered based on systematic observation;
2. designing and conducting investigations and field studies;
3. analyzing data to support or refute hypotheses by identifying patterns in data; and comparing results to known scientific theories, current models, or personal experience; and considering multiple interpretations of data;

<1> The Temperature's Rising - page 27 [Relates directly to points #1-3]
Environmental Science, Water Temperature
Recommended Adaptations:
Students could meet #1-2-3 of this standard with a small amount of modification in how this activity is presented. Questions would need to be formulated. Field studies would need to be included. Call the local Watershed District to see what concerns they have in your area. What experiments are they conducting in local streams? What can the students do to help?

<1> That Settles It - page 15 [Relates directly to points #1-3]
Collect water samples to observe sediments.
Recommended Adaptations:
This activity will get students started collecting water samples. After the samples have been collected, discuss the proper way (controls) to experiment and change only one variable at a time. Repeat the experiment - did you get the same results. This activity could be used to meet #3 in the standard. Definitely do the Extension on page 16. Introduce vocabulary such as E-coli, pH, nitrates, phosphates, etc.

<2> Pesky Pesticides - page 49 [Relates most directly to point #1]
Interview farmers or gardeners about their use of pesticides. Identify alternatives.
Recommended Adaptations:
This could be used as a topic on conventional farming (using pesticides) vs. organic farming. For more items and depth which are needed to meet the standard the student would need to do research on the Internet, contact the DNR, EPA, etc. Student could set up their own (or identify existing) garden sites, one that is organic and one that uses pesticides. The student could visit sites to compare what goes on and how they are different. Compare the cost of vegetables grown on organic vs. conventional farms. What alternatives methods do organic farmers use? How do they work?

<1> Fertile Green - page 19 [Relates most directly to point #3]
Model effects of different nutrient pollutants on water quality.
Recommended Adaptations:
This activity could be used to teach students how to do # 1-2-3 in this standard. Do all parts including Follow -up and Extension. This will set students up up for success in this standard. Students would understand how experiments must be done to be authentic.

4. describing how a premise is supported by scientific concepts, principles, theories, or laws; and
5. creating a model to illustrate a contemporary or historical concept, principle, theory, or law.

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