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Waterway Cleanup- Teacher Tips

Teacher Tips

Estimated Time: One class period- four times a year


If you look around you will notice plastic cups, newspapers and soda cans collected around storm drains, blown into corners of buildings, parking lots and school yards, and in and around waterways. If we are to have a clean environment, sometimes it means that we have to do our part. This activity gives instructions for organizing a clean-up in and around your adopted waterway. 

This activity allows students to take responsibility for the place they live and gives them a strong sense of satisfaction. To make the clean-up more fun, students will be on a clean-up treasure hunt. After the activity, students will discuss what they found.

This activity should be done at least 4 times during the school year. 

The Week Before: 

1. Scout out the area your students will be cleaning up to define the clean-up boundaries and to become familiar with the area. 

2. Give students permission forms to take home to parents. 

3. Get trash bags from the Stormwater Quality Office 

4. Find parent helpers 

The Day Before 

1. Make sure everyone has signed permission slips. 

2. Divide students into teams of 3 (assign one student to write down items they find for the scavenger hunt). 

3. Review purpose of the Clean-up Treasure Hunt. Explain that they will be cleaning up the watershed and the waterway that your class has adopted. Clean-ups are a very important way of maintaining and improving water quality and habitat. 

4. Remind students to bring a pair of work gloves to school for the clean-up. 

Clean-up Day 

1. Pass out scavenger hunt and discuss it. 

2. Pass out 2 plastic garbage bags per group. In one, they should put recyclable items, in the other trash. 

3. Remind students to be careful when picking up broken glass. Tell them they should not pick up anything that looks dangerous or harmful. 

After Clean-up Discussion 

1. Discuss what trashy treasures students found on the clean-up. 

2. Ask students how they felt about the clean-up activity. 

Did they like it? 

What did they find out about the area around the waterway? 

What are some things they can do to help reduce the amount of trash found in the watershed and in/near the water?

People to Contact

City of Boulder Water Resource Educator (303) 413-7365 
City of Boulder Stormwater Quality Office (303) 413-7350 

Science Standards 

#1 Students understand the processes of scientific investigation and design, conduct, communicate abut and evaluate such investigations. 

#5 Students know and understand interrelationships among science, technology, and human activity and how they can affect the world. 

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Last Page Update - Tuesday December 27, 2005