Teacher Resources title Student Resources

no fishing sign

Background Knowledge

Research Scenario

Residents along the Chesapeake Bay have witnessed some profound changes in the quality of their environment over the years: the water is not as clear as it once was, fish and shellfish populations are dwindling, and algae blooms occur more frequently. Concerned local residents have joined together to form the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, a community organization whose goal is to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its natural resources. This group needs expert help to fully understand the environmental issues affecting the Bay, so that they can design a community action plan to address those issues. With these goals in mind, the Alliance has hired your environmental research team, Bay-Watchers, Inc., to investigate the impact of human activities on the Chesapeake Bay.


How does our use of natural resources impact the quality of the environment?

Safari MontageFor a refresher on the Hydrologic Cycle, water pollution, and the ecosystem, watch the Safari Montage Video Clean Water.



boat on the bay

Task and Product

Each member of your Bay-Watchers research team will investigate a specific Chesapeake Bay environmental issue:

  • The Conservationist will examine the various types of natural resources found in the Bay and their importance to the Bay environment
  • The Scientist will investigate sources of point and non-point pollution and their effects on the Bay
  • The Fisheries Manager will investigate the causes of population reduction in various fish and shellfish species in the Bay, and the issue of over-harvesting
  • The EPA Official will examine federal, state, and local laws regulating the use of the Bay and its resources
  • The Land Developer will investigate land use around the Bay and the effects of over-development

After conducting research individually, each member will share his/her findings with the rest of the team. The Bay-Watchers team-members will then work together to prepare a comprehensive environmental impact report in portfolio format or a video psa for your client, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Your team can also look at presentation options available in the Web 2.0 Tools.

The Alliance will expect your final product to fully explain the impact of natural resource use and other human activities on the Chesapeake Bay environment, and to recommend some possible solutions to these environmental problems.




You will be graded on your daily work on the research process, your group work as a member of the Baywatchers research team, and your final product and presentation (team portfolio):

Research Process Scoring Tools:

Product Scoring Tools:
Written Report Assessment (Individual student report)
Science Portfolio Assessment (Baywatchers' Team Portfolio)


Bay visitors' center


Essential Question guiding your team's research:

How does our use of natural resources impact the quality of the environment?

Subsidiary Questions for each Baywatchers team-member:



Crab pot Gather and Sort

Gather information about your research topic from a variety of sources.

Record and sort your research findings using a graphic organizer or note cards.

Be sure to avoid plagiarism and keep track of your resources for a bibliography.


Crab feast


Individual Team-members:

  • Analyze your research notes to determine if you have answered your subsidiary questions.
    • Have you gathered sufficient details about your topic to create your section of the team portfolio?
Baywatchers Teams:
  • Meet as a team in order to have team-members share their research findings.
    • What new insights have emerged about your topic?
    • Which facts are the most compelling and would best address the needs of your client, the Coastal Residents' Alliance?
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your team's research for the task..
    • Does your team have sufficient information to answer the essential question:
How does our use of natural resources impact the quality of the environment?

Individual Team Members:

Synthesize your findings by writing a first draft of your scientific report for the team portfolio.


Baywatchers Teams:
  • Meet as a team in order to:
    • Design and create a cover page for your team portfolio, including the name of each team-member.
    • Write a brief introduction to the team portfolio. Explain your purpose for this research and describe each team-member's role.
    • Write a conclusion paragraph in which you summarize and draw conclusions from your team's research findings in order to answer the essential question: How does our use of natural resources impact the quality of the environment? Make final recommendations for how the Coastal Residents Alliance can help to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay.
    • Revisit the portfolio assessment to be sure you have satisfied the requirements.


  • Present your portfolio to the Coastal Residents' Alliance (your teacher or class).


  • Investigate how the use of natural resources has had a negative impact on the environment in other parts of the United States or the world. How do the environmental problems there compare to those of the Chesapeake Bay?
  • Investigate the economic impact of natural resource use in the Chesapeake Bay.





jQuery Teacher Resources Student Resources