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Water: The Essential Substance of Life
Dr. Edward F. Block
Block Institute for Astrobiological Studies
Downloadable material
Environmental Chemistry
Upper Secondary School
The prerequisites
The resource is suitable for holding seminars and discussions and writing scientific papers.
It enables making computer presentations or bulletins on the substance of water.
It gives possibilities of analyzing facts related to the properties of water and its importance.
The knowledge obtained will be used for analyzing the composition – structure – properties relation.
It provides ideas for extracurricular activities and complements the forms of checking students’ progress.
It adds to the level of learners’ motivation and cognitive abilities.

The contents
The resource presents information on the essential role of water.
It gives description of physical, chemical and biological properties of water, its nature and ability to absorb energy.

Parts of the resource:
1. Introduction
It defines the topic of the article, its main aspects and the key point of “Better living through Chemistry”.
It elucidates briefly what the sciences of Physics, Chemistry and Biology deal with.

2. Physical properties of water
The resource describes properties, such as physical condition, density, transparency, pH, surface tension, electrical conductivity, heat index, solubility (water as “universal solvent”)
It explains what high surface tension is responsible for and what role it plays on plants.
It gives description of the relation between volume and density.

3. Chemical properties of water
The qualitative and quantitative composition and the structure of the molecule of water are discussed in details.
There is a good description of the polarity of the water molecule due to the electronegative atoms it consists of, and an explanation of the relation between hydrogen and oxygen, and the interaction of individual water molecules.
The concept of hydrogen index and the pH values of acidic, basic and neutral solutions are well introduced.
Description of the water cycle and the buffering function of water.

4. Biological properties of water
Living organisms and organs of the human body contain water.
The resource provides information concerning the solubility of gases in water and the evolution of respiratory systems in both terrestrial and aquatic animals.
It discusses issues, such as the importance of water to health, the quantity of water we need, the water balance and the role of water in homeopathy.
It points out that water, which is of paramount importance for health, is the most affected component of natural environment.

5. What makes water “good” or “bad”?
The importance of water to organisms
The quality of the water we drink
The material in which the water is kept before you drink it, i.e. glass or plastic, etc.
Awareness of harmful substances for water containers

The aims:
To provide young people with information on the important to life substances
To improve the cognitive abilities of students
To develop interest in Science studies
To combine various approaches and methods of teaching and monitoring
To develop key reading skills and abilities to analyze and focus on the key points of the matter

How to use it in class:

The resource can be of use when introducing the matter of water structure and properties and water as a life factor.
It can be assigned as a task for homework and checked afterwards in class.
It helps developing abilities of presenting and analyzing information
• Points of strength

The resource provides :
 interrelation between natural sciences
 additional form of organization and progress check
 information on ecological and health issues
It develops awareness of how the Internet can be used to retrieve and summarize information.
It is appropriate to different natural science topics.
It can aid self-study.
It is suitable to use in a team work, such as doing a project, a presentation or a brochure.
It contributes to enhancing active learning of students.
It passes on some useful advice on healthy lifestyle.
It develops environmental awareness and encourages speculation on the state of health.
It gives a number of reference websites of further information on the issues that the article focuses on.
• Point of weakness

Students need to have particular abilities of summarizing, exploring and extracting important information.
Some of the physical properties of water need more elucidation.
The article lacks illustrations.
It does not provide enough facts about everyday life and the living organisms.
Information on the water cycle in nature is scarce.

• Scientific reliability

The article gives knowledge about the composition of water and its physical and chemical properties.
It shows what a unique compound it is.
It elucidates the cause-and-effect relation and raises some questions for discussion.
It finds application in both Chemistry and Biology classes when studying cell composition, non-organic compounds, issues relating to ecology, such as water as a factor of life and a living environment.

• Pedagogical value
The resource can be used for Chemistry as well as for Biology lessons.
It is suitable to secondary school students.
It facilitates the work of both students and teachers of natural sciences.
It is a resource that helps mainly students.
It can serve as further information needed for discussions, presentations on scientific subject, essays, posters, brochures.
Technical University of Gabrovo

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2012.10.02

Posted by Genoveva Ilieva (Bulgaria)

Message: The Chemistry and Nature conservation subject is an integral part of the Science and Ecology field. This field allows a person to get a general idea of the chemical elements, of substances and their various forms.
The main results of the Chemistry training are the analytical skills students acquire, the ability to compare and generalise, to search for relations and interrelations, to plan and to carry out experiments, to look for ways of solving chemical problems.
The course of study is profound and encompasses a wide range of facts about the properties, distribution and ways of obtaining water. What makes it particularly valuable is the fact that it emphasizes the organic nature of water. The waste and loss of water in private homes and its global decrease pose the issue of saving it. This lesson will provide good ground for a discussion entitled “The Consumption of Water at Home”. Thus after the lesson students will be able to:
• Determine the daily quantity of water they use
• Set the purposes for which they use water
• Find ways of decreasing the amount of water their families use by means of the brainstorming
• Draw a plan for decreasing the consumption of water

This activity will face students with the necessity to reduce water consumption at home. The activities in this lesson are aimed at reviewing the values of mankind. Students should learn to take decisions that affect other people as well as themselves. They will comprehend the connection between all living beings and the water supplies on planet Earth. Students will provide answers to the question 'What are the main purposes for which we use water?''
Students may work together and draw a plan for reducing the water consumption at home. Thus interest in Chemistry will increase. By discussing fascinating and unconventional questions students will get convinced of the problem severity. Developing an educational interest in the topic is related to establishing a new value system; it is also connected to student-oriented learning and personality development in today's hectic world.
The contents of this lesson open numerous opportunities for enhancing students' educational interest in Chemistry theory and practice as well as Nature studies in general, in nature conservation, healthy nutrition and human health.
By meditating on the given materials students will be able to make judgements and provide answers to fascinating but at the same time pressing questions, such as:
o Is it realistic to think that we could save water?
o How would you feel if you did not have enough water to drink and wash yourself?
o Can a single individual influence the future water supplies?
o What is everyone's role in avoiding the water shortage expected in 2020?
This lesson material allows an innovative teaching approach. Using it in combination with specific aims and tasks as well as clear questions will develop students' creative potential. Doing case and project work, making and using brain maps, understanding basic notions, discussing issues and brainstorming will motivate students to look at this issue profoundly.
Dividing students into workgroups, giving them an opportunity to work together, setting a lesson aim and tasks that involve everyone from the workgroup into the processes of problem-solving, summarizing and evaluation, are all part of a student-centred approach.
In my opinion, students will be willing to discuss the topic of water pollution. Some research tasks could be set in advance, for instance:
o Water circulation
o Sources and consequences of water pollution
o Pollutants
o Laws of water conservation
o Processing sewage waters
o Water quality

Taking part in real-life situations and case studies helps to develop students' analytical and decision-making skills.
This lesson material allows the use of methods and tools, by means of which every student can hear, see, do, ask questions and discuss his/her point of view with fellow students.
In conclusion, I believe that any material could be turned into a fascinating lesson, provided the teacher sets the right direction as well as clear tasks and objectives. Teachers should use effective teaching approaches that challenge and motivate their students to broaden their horizons.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.