Illinois EPA and University of
Illinois Urbana-Champaign Introduce New Curriculum Unit for
Fifth-Sixth Grade Educators
NGSS Aligned Curriculum Provided for Free
to Educators and Parents
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[April 12, 2019]
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Acting Director John J.
Kim announces that the Agency has partnered with the University of
Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Office for Mathematics, Science, and
Technology Education (MSTE) to create a new science curriculum unit
for fifth and sixth grade educators: Why is the Pond Green? The unit
focuses on surface water and algae. The entire curriculum is free
and available online to teachers and parents at
“We are excited to release a new installment in our Environmental
Pathways to provide educators and parents with quality STEM
curriculum with an environmental theme,” said Acting Director Kim.
“Science literacy is increasingly important to our day to day lives
and we appreciate our partnership with the University of Illinois’s
Office for MSTE, which has made the development of this curriculum
Why is the Pond Green? will help students investigate the algal
bloom phenomenon in Illinois and its greater environmental impact.
It follows a storyline model that is driven by student questions.
The unit is aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for
formal classroom use. It is also suitable for informal use.
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“This is a great unit! It is very NGSS friendly and has a lot of hands-on
components. Students are familiar with ponds and algae, so they made some great
connections to the materials. They learned to make careful observations of their
experiments and patience as they watched their algae grow, or not grow in some
cases. I believe their very favorite part was looking at the algae under the
microscope! There were many aha! moments as they learned to focus the
microscopes and they were so amazed at what they saw. It helped them to see that
many decisions we make can affect ecosystems that we don't necessarily think
about,” said Pam Evans, science teacher at Arthur Grade School.
"I really liked this unit because we got to do a lot of comparisons. We also got
to grow algae and see it through microscopes. We got to see the pond in all of
the months and seasons. I got to do many stand-up activities, and I learned a
lot about algae,” said Emmalee Nall, 6th grade student.
The Agency and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are creating a second
fifth and sixth grade curriculum unit focused on food waste reduction. The food
waste unit is expected to be available in Spring 2020 and will also conform to
the NGSS. The new curricula are an update to the Agency’s existing curriculum
Environmental Pathways: Youth Investigating Pollution Issues in Illinois.
More information about Illinois EPA’s Environmental Education outreach may be
[ILLINOIS ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY]