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Water: Articles and Activities for Middle School Students

Activities: "Bon Voyage to Bad Boating Habits"

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For Grades 6 - 8

Bon Voyage to Bad Boating Habits (Full Article)(PDF) (2 pp, 427K)

Bon Voyage to Bad Boating Habits (Activity Sheets)(PDF) (17 pp, 1.2K)


Exercise I. When Does Water Burn?!?
Exercise II. Creating a Better Boating Commercial
Exercise III. MTBE Motives
Exercise IV. Exotic Invasive Stowaways
Exercise V. One in a Million


Students will learn about common boating-related threats to waterways. They will learn about the problems created in waterways by recreational boaters and discuss ways boaters can change their behaviors to reduce their impact on waterways. Students will also learn about the history of water pollution through a study of the Cuyahoga River. They will create a commercial to raise awareness about boating-related pollution. Exercises will also help students explore the reliability of information on the Internet by comparing various articles on MTBE, a common gasoline additive that can contribute to water pollution, and expose students to the problems associated with unintentionally transporting invasive species in ballast water. An experiment that will help students visualize measurements parts per million is also included.

Time Required

Individual exercises are designed to be approximately 1/2 hour to 45 minutes long. The time to complete an exercise can be longer if the optional additional exercises are explored. Exercises I, II and V are well-suited for an in-class activity. Exercises III and IV are better suited for individual or small-group research and writing projects.

The time to complete an exercise can be longer if the optional links to related Web sites are explored for a deeper examination of the subject.

Curricular Standards and Skills

Natural Science

  • Invasive species
  • Units for water quality measurement
  • Drinking water standards


  • The history of water pollution
  • The media
  • The Clean Water Act

Language Arts

  • Reading comprehension
  • Critical thinking
  • Research
  • Public speaking
  • Comparing sources


  • Percents
  • Fractions


  • aquatic environment
  • ballast water
  • bilge water
  • boat mechanic
  • biodegradeable
  • Clean Water Act
  • eutrophication
  • hull
  • invasive species
  • marine biologist
  • marine police officer
  • marine sanitation device
  • methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE)
  • ordinance
  • phosphates
  • wake

Web sites

Duke University News: EPA Head Calls Waning Interest Chief Threat Exit EPA Disclaimer

Editorial: The Fire Is Quenched Exit EPA Disclaimer (Post-Gazette article on the restored Cuyahoga River)

The Return of the Cuyahoga Exit EPA Disclaimer

Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization Exit EPA Disclaimer

Occurrence of Gasoline Additive MTBE in Shallow Ground Water in Urban and Agricultural Areas

Drinking Water and MTBE: A Guide for Private Well Owners Exit EPA Disclaimer 

U.S. Geological Survey MTBE Information

Citizens Campaign for the Environment: MTBE Pollution in Drinking Water Exit EPA Disclaimer

Environmental Protection Agency MTBE Information

What are Marine Bioinvaders? Exit EPA Disclaimer

Minnesota Sea Grant's Field Guide to Aquatic Exotic Plants and Animals Exit EPA Disclaimer

USDA Aquatic Species Profiles

Drinking Water Contaminants


Middle Schools  |  Bon Voyage to Bad Boating Habits
Exercise I  |  Exercise II  |  Exercise III  |  Exercise IV  | Exercise V

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