Lakes and Ponds
By Stacy Becker
University of Idaho


ITV Series: Lakes & Ponds-Bill Nye the Science Guy, Series #405Image10.gif (3218 bytes)

These lessons will focus on lakes and ponds and the role they play in maintaining human,  wildlife, and the earth's habitat. During this activity, students will learn about the various ecosystems that are sustained within lakes and ponds and how their individual behaviors can effect the overall health of these important water systems. Students will also be asked to consider the importance of lakes and ponds in their every day lives. Students will learn how the earth's lakes and ponds are created and what the difference is between the two bodies of water. Students will perform an activity that demonstrates the multitude of plant and animal lives within these two water systems. Students will extend their understanding of lakes and ponds through learning about career opportunities, learning how to become good stewards of their waterways, and respecting the importance of lakes and ponds in their daily lives.  There are a total of three lessons in this unit with lots of ideas on extending the learning to all parts of the curriculum.


Per student or team:

  • "Give Water A Hand" Questionnaire handout for each student
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Videotape handout for student notes
  • Newsprint
  • Markers
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Tape
  • A length of sturdy thread
  • Pond water
  • Small piece of raw liver or ground beef
  • Small jar
  • Magnifying glass

Learning Objectives
Students should be able to:

  • Describe and recognize the difference between a lake and pond.
  • Name the six ways in which a lake or pond can be formed.
  • Describe the importance and act of evaporation on a waterway
  • Describe the different ways in which water can access a lake or pond.
  • Understand the importance of, and be able to behave in a manner that protects their local watersystems.
  • define and use vocabulary appropriately

Pre-Viewing Activity

"Give Water A Hand"  Handout
Have students complete a brief questionnaire regarding their general knowledge of:

  • the water quality of their local lakes, ponds, and streams;
  • their knowledge of where their drinking water comes from;
  • their general concern or care for the wild animals, birds, and fish that depend on the wetlands habitat;
  • and if they think they have the necessary skills to protect their local water resources.

Instructions: Students are to complete the questionnaire independently during class. Encourage them to give thoughtful consideration to their answers, and to respond more thoroughly than a simple "yes" or "no." Have students break into small groups to discuss their answers and ideas. Each group will transfer their ideas onto a large piece of newsprint and share the finished piece with classmates. The posters will hang in the classroom throughout the unit plan.

Focus for Viewing

The focus for viewing is a specific responsibility or task(s) that the students are responsible for during and after watching the video to focus and engage their viewing attention.  Students will be asked to take notes during the videotape and class discussion. Their notes should cover the following information and will be referred to during a post viewing activity. 

  • Ask the students to be able to recognize the difference between lakes and ponds and the different ways they are both formed.
  • Ask students to be able to describe the different ways in which pollution can affect their local lakes and ponds.  After watching the video students should be able to recognize and describe the advantages and disadvantages of man made lakes and ponds.
  • Students should understand the importance of evaporation and the ways in which the ecosystems within a water system can measure the overall health of a lake or pond.

Post-Viewing Lesson 1

Lakes and ponds overflow with life and activity. Students can learn all about how animals and plants live together in these ecosystems by visiting and studying a local pond or lake. This activity allows students to capture and observe Planaria, small meat-eating worms.  Planaria are carnivores, so they are attracted to the meat, and easily captured. The two "eyes' of a planarian are light sensitive eye-spots. These guys can sense light, but can't see like humans do. Ask students what role these creatures might play in a pond ecosystem. Planaria are pond scavengers - dead animals would pile up in a pond if Planaria weren't around to clean them up!

  • Break students into pairs. Each pair of students will complete the following lesson:
  • Tie the string around a small piece of bait.
  • Fill the small jar with pond water and dip the "bait" into the jar.
  • Slowly raise the meat out of the water after a few minutes. Gently lower the bait into the jar.
  • Use a magnifying glass to examine the Planaria you have caught!
  • Make sure to WASH YOUR HANDS after handling the raw meat.

Post-Viewing Lesson 2

Students need an opportunity to enhance their knowledge of the information gained through the video and class discussion.  In this activity student will work in groups to complete a handout of questions pertaining to information provided in the video.
Each group member will have their own handout but can and should work together, referring to notes and general knowledge to complete their handouts. Once the handouts are completed, each group will decide on one element of information relating to lakes and ponds that they have learned thus far. For example: evaporation, ecosystems, "pond scum," pollution, or the six ways in which lakes/ponds are created.
Using newsprint and colored markers each group will draw their topic through their own artistic impression of how it might look or be represented.
Upon completion, each group will present their poster to the class, describing what they have done and why. Each poster will be hung in the class for the duration of the unit.


For additional lesson plans and ideas relating to this topic and many others try TeacherSource!   You will find activities, lesson plans, teacher guides and links to other great educational web sites!  Search the database by keyword, grade level or subject area! 

Mathline and Scienceline are also great resources for teachers seeking teaching tips, lesson plans, assessment methods, professional development, and much more!  Look for a localized version of Mathline and Scienceline on IdahoPTV next year!

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