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Interactions in Nature:

An investigation of Acid Rain

A WebQuest for 11-12 Grade
Environmental Chemistry
Designed by: Melissa Miles




Pollutant gases are released into the atmosphere every day. This is the result of human activities as well as natural events. One of the consequences of having the pollutants in the atmosphere is the creation of a wet deposition known as acid rain. Throughout the world this toxic precipitation impacts the environment, the health of organisms, and the economic state of the area.





The United States government has set aside funding for the restoration of wildlife areas and manmade structures that have suffered damage due to the acid rain. The funding must also be used to develop a program that will target the reduction of these toxins released into the air. States in the U.S. may apply for these grants from the government by presenting evidence about the acid rain problem in their area as well as possible ways to eliminate it in the future. You, along with your team, have been selected to represent one of the states. You will be using lab experiences, websites, and Microsoft PowerPoint to do research and develop your presentation. It will be your job to put together information about the acid rain problem for that state, develop ideas to reduce the amount of toxins affecting the atmosphere in that state, and present this information to the Grant Selection Committee. Your presentation should include a PowerPoint slideshow and a copy of your group’s completed lab sheets. Will your state be the lucky one?






Your team must perform a series of experiments concerning acid rain and must research several aspects about acid rain, including questions about your particular state. Everyone will be involved in the experiment portion of this project, but will be assigned separate roles to accomplish the research portion. Once both of these parts have been accomplished, the team will come back together to coordinate the final products needed for the presentation to the Grant Selection Committee.

Final Products

1.    A lab report for each lab experiment. Copy tables/questions into your report.

2.    A PowerPoint presentation which includes:

-one slide background used throughout

-stick to fairly basic animations throughout

-include answers to the questions from each person’s role description. *The answers to these questions are MUCH more important and will have a greater impact on your final grade than the design and decoration of the slideshow!


Experiment #1

Experiment #2

Experiment #3:

Research Roles

Look at each role and decide which role each person will be taking on. Once your group has decided, each person will find a list of the type of questions their role must research and the links that must be used to find out information. Use only the sites given. This is not meant to be an internet search project, but rather an exercise in understanding and coordination with others to convey information.


  • What is acid rain?
  • What chemicals make rain acidic, and how does it happen?
  • Where do these chemical come from?
  • How do we measure the acidity of rain?
  • What is ph?
  • Describe the ph range and list various things that correspond to the various ph levels.
  • What is the ph of normal rain, and at what level does the ph become dangerous?

General and Chemist Resources



  • What effect does acid rain have on trees and soil?
  • How does the effect of acid rain on trees and soil affect us?
  • What happens when lakes and aquatic systems become acidic?
  • How do acidic water systems affect organisms and the environment?
  • Which areas in your state are being affected by acid rain?
  • What are the signs that acid rain is affecting your state’s environment?

Ecologist Resources



  • How does acid rain affect humans?
  • What are some of the direct effects of acid rain on humans? Are there any health problems associated with acid rain?
  • What are some of the indirect effects of acid rain on humans? Does acid rain affect our sources of food, water, and air.
  • What are the consequences of the effects of acid rain on people?

Doctor Resources



  • Does acid rain affect building materials used in construction?
  • Does acid rain have an effect on architecture?
  • What does acid rain do to our roads, highways, and bridges?
  • What is the effect of acid rain on things made from metal such as automobiles, trains, buses, and other means of transportation?
  • What does the effect of acid rain cost us in terms of money?
  • What are the economic consequences of acid rain on fisheries, forestry, and agriculture?

Economist Resources



  • When was acid rain first identified?
  • Who coined the term “acid rain”?
  • What/Who are the major contributors that have caused the acid rain problem?
  • Are there any lessons that have been learned over time about the acid rain problem and/or ways of dealing with it?

Historian Resources



Each lab will be assessed separately based on the lab report that is submitted by the team for each one.

Lab Report Rubric – 20 points each/60 points total


(4 pts)

(3 pts)

(2 pts)

(1 pt)




1. Includes the question to be answered by the lab
2. states hypothesis that is based on research and/or sound reasoning
3. title is relevant.
4. Hypothesis (prediction) is testable.

One of the "excellent" conditions is not met

Two of the "excellent" conditions is not met

Three of the "excellent" conditions is not met






A description or step-by-step list of how the experiment was performed

Description unclear, couldn't be repeated



Results (data)

Results and data are clearly recorded, organized so it is easy for the reader to see trends. All appropriate labels are included

Results are clear and labeled, trends are not obvious,

Resulsts are unclear, missing labels, trends are not obvious at all

Results are present, though too disorganized or poorly recorded to make sense of




The data and observations are analyzed accurately, trends are noted, enough data was taken to establish conclusion

Analysis somewhat lacking in insight, enough data, though additional data would be more powerful

Analysis lacking in insight, not enough data was gathered to establish trends, OR analysis does not follow data

Analysis poor, not enough data, inaccurate analysis




1. Summarizes the essential data used to draw conclusions
2. Conclusions follow data (not wild guesses or leaps of logic),
3. Discusses applications of experiment ("real world" connections)
4. Hypothesis is rejected or accepted based on the data.

One of the "excellent" conditions is not met

Two of the "excellent" conditions is not met

Three of the "excellent" conditions is not met






Neat, organized with headings, few spelling/grammar errors

Somewhat lacking in organization, multiple spelling/grammar errors, not neat








Total =



Presentation rubric on following page (40 points total).















Audience cannot understand presentation because there is no sequence of information.

Audience has difficulty following presentation because student jumps around.

Student presents information in logical sequence which audience can follow.

Student presents information in logical, interesting sequence which audience can follow.


Content Knowledge

Student does not have grasp of information; student cannot answer questions about subject.

Student is uncomfortable with information and is able to answer only rudimentary questions.

Student is at ease with content, but fails to elaborate.

Student demonstrates full knowledge (more than required)with explanations and elaboration.



Student used no visuals.

Student occasional used visuals that rarely support text and presentation.

Visuals related to text and presentation.

Student used visuals to reinforce screen text and presentation.



Student's presentation had four or more spelling errors and/or grammatical errors.

Presentation had three misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Presentation has no more than two misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Presentation has no misspellings or grammatical errors.



Student mumbles, incorrectly pronounces terms, and speaks too quietly for students in the back of class to hear.

Student incorrectly pronounces terms. Audience members have difficulty hearing presentation.

Student's voice is clear. Student pronounces most words correctly.

Student used a clear voice and correct, precise pronunciation of terms.











To complete this project you must have submitted your lab reports for all labs and presented your Power Point presentation to the Grant Selection Committee (your class) for evaluation. If you have accomplished these steps, Congratulations!! Now that you are through, don’t forget that acid rain is a real problem for people every day. Steps have to be taken to learn more about it and come up with solutions for existing problems and prevention methods to lessen the problem in the future.



Credits & References

Special thanks to the following sources for all their help:

The entire group at the WaterCampus Department on the University of Illinois campus including Susan Herrick, Lynn Burdick, and Scott Wennerdahl.

Bernie Dodge – http://webquest.sdsu.edu/designpatterns/GENERIC/webquest.htm




Personal Copyright Statement

We all benefit by being generous with our work. Permission is hereby granted for other educators to copy this WebQuest, update or otherwise modify it, and post it elsewhere provided that the original author's name is retained along with a link back to the original URL of this WebQuest. On the line after the original author's name, you may add Modified by (your name) on (date). If you do modify it, please let me know and provide the new URL.