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Investigating Wastewater: Solutions & Pollution (Developed by SEPUP)

module #SP-2

The central focus of this foundation module is the vital role chemicals play in our lives. Our opinions about chemicals are based on knowledge and attitudes.
What do we really know about chemicals?
What are the factors that affect our attitudes toward them?

In the opening sequence, survey research techniques are used to help students analyze what they know and think about chemicals and their chemical use. Next, they examine the unique properties of water that make it such a useful solvent. Students then apply basic concepts such as acid/base properties and neutralization, as they devise a plan to treat a solution of dilute acid rinse wastes from an electroplating plant.

This module includes a Teacher's Guide
Module requires 16 SEPUP trays (not included)

Accommodates five classes, each with 8 groups of four students


This module has 10 activities which will require 17 to 21 ~50-minute class periods to complete.

1. Investigating Mixtures

Students are introduced to the importance of water and to the SEPUP 4-2-1 approach to group interaction and individual responsibilities. Students then investigate the making of mixtures with a solid and a liquid. Students learn that filtering is a way of separating undissolved substances from a liquid based mixture. Students are then introduced to dissolved substances and the issue of wastewater disposal and treatment.

2. Investigating Solutions

Students further investigate solutions, with an emphasis on solubility as a property of substances. Students operationally define solution, soluble, insoluble and saturated. Basic concepts of the particle theory of matter are introduced.

3. Reproducibility and Proper Use of Laboratory Equipment

Students are introduced to the importance of consistent lab techniques and investigate reproducible ways to use SEPUP dropper bottles and droppers. The emphasis in this activity is on the processes of investigation using SEPUP materials.

4. Comparing Solubility

Students predict the solubility of several substances in water and alcohol. They then test their predictions using a controlled experiment. Based on their results, they are introduced to the concept of water as a "universal solvent."

5. Parts per Million

In this activity, students explore the concept of one part per - (million, billion, or trillion) and use if: as a measurement for the concentration of chemicals that are found in solutions. Students are introduced to this concept through the process of serial dilution. Students learn how to quantify the concentration of a solution in parts per million. The difference between and an observation and an inference defined operationally.

6. Identifying Acid and Base Solutions

Students explore the interactions among four different liquids (HCL, KOH, universal indicator, and water). Operational definition of acid, base and indicator are introduced. Students have further experiences with variables and how to control them in an investigation. The knowledge about indicators is used to determine whether the simulated industrial waste is acidic, basic or neutral.

7. Diluting Acids and Bases

Students observe the change in the color of universal indicator in an acid or a base as the solution becomes more dilute. They continue the development of the operational definitions of acids, bases, and indicators. Students know that the simulated wastewater contains acid. They are asked to consider the trade-offs involved in using dilution to prevent the pollution of a lake by industrial waste.

8. Acid-Base Neutralization

Students use pH indicators to investigate the effect of pH of various ratios of 0.1% HCL and 0.1% KOH. Students are introduced to the concept of neutralization and then go on to explore it quantitatively. They determine the ratio of the 0.1% HCL and 0.1% KOH solutions that must be mixed to produced a neutral solution. Their results are used to reinforce the particulate nature of matter. Students then use a particle model to further explore concentration and explain neutralization.

9. Removing Dissolve Substances from a Solution

Students explore the use chemical reactions that produce precipitates as a means of removing dissolve substances from a solution. Students investigate the formation of an insoluble precipitate when two solutions are mixed and the separation of precipitate from the liquid by filtration. This process is then evaluated as a possible method for cleaning the simulated industrial wastewater.

10. Treating the Acme Wastewater

Students use the knowledge and understandings developed in this module to plan and carry out an investigation that will help them decide which method is most acceptable for treating the simulated industrial wastewater.

  • Clean water is essential for life on earth. Filters can remove undissolved solid particles from a liquid. Water’s ability to dissolve many substances is both helpful and harmful to living organisms.
  • A solution exists when one substance, the solute, dissolves in another, the solvent. When no more solute can be dissolved, it is a saturated solution.
  • Water can dissolve many different solutes and is often called the “universal solvent.” The pH scale classifies the relative acidity/basicity of a solution.
  • Combining an acid with a base produces a chemical reaction that results in a solution with an intermediate pH. If combined in a specific ratio, any acid and base combination can produce a neutral solution.
  • Gathering relevant evidence is essential for thoughtful inquiry and good decision making. A well-designed investigation tests only one variable. Making decisions often involves trade-offs

Content List in Investigating Wastewater: Solutions & Pollution (Developed by SEPUP) is as follows:

Quantity Description
1 Teacher’s Guide with reproducible masters for Student Sheets
500 Filter paper circles, 7cm
60 Pepper packets
16 SEPUP Filter Funnels
16 LAB-AIDS® measuring/mixing spatulas
16 9 oz plastic cups
16 Droppers
16 Magnifiers, 4X
8 Drop control bottles of Universal Indicator solution
8 Drop control bottles of Sodium Carbonate solution, 5%
8 Drop control bottles of HCl solution (Hydrochloric Acid)
8 Drop control bottles of KOH solution (Potassium Hydroxide), 0.1%
8 Drop control bottles of Alcohol
8 Drop control bottles of "ACME Wastewater" solution
8 Drop control bottles of Liquid Starch solution
8 Drop control bottles of Red Solution, 10%
8 Drop control bottles of "Water", empty
8 Vials of Malachite, crushed,
8 Vials of Sodium Chloride
8 Vials of Lauric Acid
8 Vials of Dominade
8 Vials of Copper Chloride
8 Vials of Neroline Yara Yara
8 Vials of Sugar
8 Vials of Powdered Milk
8 Vials of Iron Chloride
8 Vials of Copper Sulfate
5 Vials of Universal Indicator paper, vial/100
5 Packet of unsweetened drink mix powder
1 MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets)
Number of students
Number of groups
Maximum 8 groups per period

This module has 10 activities which will require 17 to 21 ~50-minute class periods to complete. SEPUP modules employ the 4-2-1 model: each student is part of a team of 2 and each team partners with another team to form a group of 4 that shares some equipment.

Title Item # Price Quantity
Investigating Wastewater: Solutions & Pollution (Developed by SEPUP) SP-2 $823.95
SEPUP Tray Package of 16 SP-1CT $114.95
Investigating Wastewater: Solutions & Pollution TG SP-2PM $77.25