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Hot Mess, PBS


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Videos, 17 minutes, 37 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Essentials of Environmental Science: The Water Cycle and Water Pollution

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  • This video explores the impact of human activity on the water cycle.
  • Students will learn about topics including the hydrologic cycle, watersheds, water pollution, keystone species, impermeable surfaces, overfishing, and the tragedy of the commons.
Teaching Tips


  • It starts off with simpler concepts like the water cycle and water vapor but ends with more complex issues like dead zones and the tragedy of the commons. 
  • It includes successful examples of progress with the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the recovery of Atlantic Cod fisheries. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Although the video explains basic water science concepts, students should still have an understanding of water vapor and the water cycle. 


Scientist Notes
This resource is an 18-minute video that presents an overview of the water cycle and the impacts of humans on water quality and water resource availability. After presenting some of the basics of water resource science, this resource presents examples of human-caused pollution and other ways in which humans have altered the natural water cycle. This resource does not shy away from jargon, but does an excellent job explaining terminology and making the topic approachable. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-4 Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
      • HS-ESS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
      • HS-ESS3-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
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    • I love this video and used it to introduce my students to water pollution! We did an experiment with permeable and impermeable materials, trying to create a device to filter dirty water.
      2 years ago