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Chesapeake Bay

Activity 13 (Elaborate): Presenting the

Chesapeake Bay

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Activity Overview

Activity Summary

In this culminating activity, students synthesize what they have learned during the module through their experiments, models, and research. Working together, they develop one or more presentations of their findings to share with stakeholders in the Chesapeake Bay conservation community.

A Note About Student Input and Planning: Like other components of the MWEE, significant student input should be involved in planning their presentation. They may want to choose the format (poster vs. PowerPoint vs. video), what information is included, and who their audience will be. With this in mind, advance planning is required for the presentation to run smoothly. Try your best to provide as much student input as possible, balanced with the need to anticipate and plan in advance for various components of the project. Use the Planning Guide below to help reach this balance.

Activity Objectives & Materials

Approximate Time: variable depending on presentation format


  • Students will use their models and research to create a presentation of the problem of nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.



  • Student Presentation Planning Guide

  • Student presentation look-fors

  • Student Presentation Rubric


  • None

A Note About Timing: The timing of the last two activities in this module (student presentation and student action project) are completely interchangeable. If you do the action project first, then it is will be easier for students to include “what you can do” suggestions in their presentation. However, sometimes it is easier from a logistical perspective to do the action project last. Choose whichever order works best for you and your students.

Standards Connection

DCI: LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

SEP: Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

CCC: Cause & Effect 



What are the main sources of nitrogen pollution for the Chesapeake Bay?

  • Transportation (cars, trucks, buses), power plants, chemical factories.

  • The purpose of this warmup is to remind students where the pollution is coming from that they measured in the rainwater. This is important information for this activity and the action project.


1. Frame the Activity

Use students’ clues board and Chesapeake Bay model to remind them how far they’ve come since they started investigating what happened to the fish in the Chesapeake Bay. Tell them that now it is time for them to present their findings to the community. Over the next few days, they will bring together everything they’ve learned to create a presentation explaining how nitrogen pollution affects the Chesapeake Bay. The presentation will be based on their model, and it will show all the steps in how nitrogen pollution affects the Bay.

Audience: Students should have the opportunity to present their findings for an authentic audience. That could be a local environmental group, a community organization, or local elected officials. Consider who could benefit from students’ information and ask knowledgeable questions.

Step 1

2. Return to the Model

Before starting to build their presentations, have students look at the model they’ve created. Discuss whether it is complete or not based on what they’ve learned. You can have students go back through their activity materials, or you can revisit some of the previous activities to make sure their model has all the important components in it. For example, you may want to label parts of the model that are in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere. The goal is to both put the finishing touches on the model, and to remind students of important components.

3. Brainstorming

Have students consider what important ideas they want to share in their presentation. For example, they should include:

  • The original phenomenon that started their investigation

  • Their “Algae in a Bottle” experiment and results

  • Sources of nitrogen pollution the Chesapeake Bay

  • Their Chesapeake Bay Pollution model

  • Their explanation of the phenomenon

  • Their Action Project

  • What individuals can do to help prevent nitrogen pollution from getting into the Chesapeake Bay


Also have students consider what format they want to present their work in. They may want to create posters, make videos, make PowerPoint slideshows, or use a completely different format. As the teacher, use the planning guide (below) to set parameters on student options so they can be successful with available resources and time.

Step 4

4. Group Presentation Development

Divide students into groups, and assign each group their respective roles and responsibilities based upon their choices and your guidelines.


While students are working on their projects, provide support and feedback however necessary. You may need to teach a mini-lesson on how to use PowerPoint or to create a video using Flipboard. You may need to provide access to resources such as pictures you’ve taken during the module, images you’ve shown, or websites you have accessed.

Students will also need frequent time checks to stay on schedule. If they are working on some of the presentation at home, consider what guidelines and expectations are necessary for this.


Also make sure that students understand how they will be graded on their presentations. A sample generic rubric is below, but it will need to be adapted based on the formats of different student presentations and what content they are expected to include.

5. Practice

Once students have finished their presentations, they may need time to rehearse with peers depending on their chosen format. This can be uncomfortable for middle school students, so consider ways to create a safe and calm environment where students can practice and get feedback. For example, have individuals or small groups present to one another instead of the whole class. Having a “glows and grows” feedback form based on the presentation rubric will keep peers active and engaged while their classmates are practicing.

Peer Feedback: When students are practicing their presentations with peers, have them use the peer feedback form.

6. Present!

Have students make their presentations, either by showing videos they’ve made, explaining posters, leading a slideshow presentation, or doing whatever it is they’ve chosen. Document the presentations however appropriate. Use your grading rubric and look-fors sheet to assess students’ knowledge, understanding, materials, and presentation skills.

7. Celebrate!

Creating and leading presentations is challenging work. Make sure to celebrate student success in completing the presentation and the MWEE!

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