Lessons & Activities

Western Montana students visit the Clark Fork River at Grant-Kohrs ranch on a CFWEP field trip.

Online lesson plans and activities are listed below, or lessons can be accessed by category using the Education Portal > Lessons & Activities menu above. Click on a lesson plan or activity below to view and download all files associated with that lesson.

You can also view the Books & Publications page to view hard-copy lessons and activities available from CFWEP, or visit Equipment & Resources for a complete listing of hard-copy materials, science equipment, and multimedia materials available from CFWEP. Elementary and middle school level teachers interested in learning more about science topics and strategies for teaching science in the classsroom may want to take a look at the Montana Science Partnership website, which includes a series of online modules on specific science topics.

Please note that CFWEP Core Curriculum (Clark Fork and Milltown) materials require a username and password for access. These materials cover science and social studies topics and are targeted for grades 5-9. If you are interested in a restricted-access lesson, please send an email to cfweprequest@gmail.com. All other curriculum materials may be downloaded without a username and password free-of-charge. You can also use the Search feature below to search all CFWEP education materials.

Most lessons are already correlated to Montana and/or national education standards, with an emphasis on science and social studies. For further information on Montana education standards, refer to the Montana Office of Public Instruction website.

Environmental Science and Social Studies Lessons & Activities

Lesson Name
Suggested
Grade
Level
Lesson Description / Subjects Addressed
Blackfoot River Fish Identification 6-9 Developed by Lincoln School teacher Alyssa Daniels, this lesson covers:

  • Blackfoot River geography, including connectivity to the Clark Fork and Columbia watersheds, with the option of using Google Earth
  • Native and introduced fish in the Blackfoot Watershed
  • Fish identification
  • River field trip safety
  • Field trip data collection and analysis
Bull Trout Curriculum 7-12 Developed by fisheries consultant Mike Bader, with support from regional experts, this curriculum covers:

  • Bull trout identification, current status, and distribution
  • Key components to healthy bull trout habitat
  • Indicator species
  • Population measurements
  • Threats affecting bull trout’s ability to survive and recover
Communicating Science: Collecting and Interpreting Data 7-12 Developed by CFWEP, this lesson covers:

  • Science processes
  • Quantitative and qualitative data
  • Methods of qualitative data collection
  • Nature Field Photography, with examples
  • Nature Field Journaling, with examples
  • Nature Field Sketching, with examples
  • Basic interviewing practices
Cultural Survey Scientist 8 Developed by CFWEP, this lesson covers:

  • The role of cultural survey scientists
  • The importance of cultural surveys
  • Role-playing the part of a survey scientist
  • Practicing survey methods
  • Making inferences about survey sites
  • Collecting data related to survey sites
  • Reporting the findings of cultural surveys
Google Earth Scavenger Hunt 4-8 Developed by CFWEP, this worksheet includes:

  • Instructions on how to download and install Google Earth software
  • A latitude and longitude exercise using Google Earth to explore Clark Fork Basin sites
The Lorax K-4 Based on the Dr. Seuss story, this lesson covers:

  • The concept of supply and demand, and identifying this concept in the book as well in the history of the Anaconda Mining Company
  • How the destruction of one resource can impact many other resources
  • Identify the “second chance” given to the boy in the story and compare that “second chance” to the billion dollar restoration/reclamation effort in the Clark Fork Watershed
Montana Office of Public Instruction Indian Education for All Curriculum Website K-12 A broad collection of lesson plans developed by the State of Montana to support Indian Education for All.
Not in My Backyard: Quantifying Milltown Wastes 7-12 Developed by CFWEP, this lesson covers:

  • The relative amounts of Milltown sediments compared to historic tailings deposited at the BP-ARCO Repository site (Opportunity Ponds)
  • Analysis of how much “toxic waste” from Milltown is actually being deposited at the BP-ARCO repository site
  • Concerns about the location of tailing storage from the perspective of the communities of Bonner and Opportunity
Opportunity, Montana: A Brief Historical Introduction to the BP-Arco Waste Repository 7-12 Developed by CFWEP, this presentation includes:

  • Current and historical photos of the Opportunity Ponds/BP-ARCO Repository
  • Historical information about the Opportunity Ponds, Butte mines, Milltown Dam and Anaconda smelter
  • A step-by-step description of the copper milling, smelting and reduction process
  • An overview of Upper Clark Fork Superfund sites and environmental impacts
Silver Bow Creek: A History of Use, Abuse and Reuse 9-12 Developed by CFWEP, this lesson covers:

  • The definition of a “watershed”
  • The movement of surface water
  • The ability of water to move sediment
  • Silver Bow Creek history
  • Silver Bow Creek restoration
Montana Science Partnership (MSP) Teachers The MSP was developed to provide instruction in science content and inquiry for K-6 teachers, although teachers and students of all grade levels will find MSP Modules useful. MSP Modules each cover a specific science topic, and also offer suggestions and further resources to help teachers integrate science topics into their regular curriculum.The MSP project is funded by a ESEA, Title II Part B Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant through the Montana Office of Public Instruction. MSP Modules were developed by the CFWEP and faculty from Montana Tech of The University of Montana and Montana State University.
Upper Clark Fork Basin Scavenger Hunt Activity 4-8 Developed by CFWEP, this worksheet includes:

  • Clark Fork Superfund Map featuring various environmentally impacted sites
  • Text descriptions of each site for students to match to images of each site
West Slope Cutthroat Trout Restoration – What Does it Take to Restore a Species? 9-12 This lesson covers:

  • The definition of a west slope cutthroat trout
  • The definition and importance of biodiversity
  • Species restoration plans
  • Stakeholders in west slope cutthroat restoration
  • Comparison to wolf restoration
What is a Part Per Million? 7-12 Developed by CFWEP, this lesson covers:

  • Concentration measurements “parts per million” and “parts per billion”
  • The definition of “concentration” and connections to everyday concentrated products
  • Healthy drinking water standards
Who is My Mommy? – Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Identification 4-8 Developed by CFWEP, this activity covers:

  • Identifying aquatic macroinvertebrates
  • Macroinvertebrate life cycles
  • Matching larva and nymphs to adult forms
World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) Curriculum -
Lesson 1: Water Quality Parameters
9-12 Developed by CFWEP, this curriculum contains three lessons and supporting materials. This lesson covers:

  • The standard criteria for “healthy” water
  • Students will observe various water samples, develop hypotheses regarding the point source of each sample, design and implement an experiment to determine the quality and source of samples, collect and measure data from samples, and record their data
  • Students will sort, classify and categorize water samples based on their observations
  • Students will report the results of their water sample assessment and debate and persuade one another as to the likely point source of each sample, and formulate questions about what relationships or patterns may have affected the water quality of each sample
World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) Curriculum -
Lesson 2: Water Monitoring Field Trip
9-12 Developed by CFWEP, this curriculum contains three lessons and supporting materials. This lesson covers:

  • Standard water monitoring quality assurance protocol
  • Collecting and recording water quality data
  • General environmental site assessments
  • Technology applied to water quality monitoring
World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) Curriculum -
Lesson 3: Water Quality Data Analysis
9-12 Developed by CFWEP, this curriculum contains three lessons and supporting materials. This lesson covers:

  • Assessing the health and quality of local streams or other water bodies by summarizing and analyzing previously collected data
  • Worldwide water quality, and compared with local water quality
  • Potential causes of water quality issues
  • Formulating questions about water quality and developing investigations for further exploration
World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) Curriculum – Supporting Materials 9-12 Additional handouts, materials, and references for use with WWMD lessons.

Clark Fork Core Curriculum

*password required for access

Lesson Name
Suggested
Grade Level
Lesson Description / Subjects Addressed
CFWEP Core Lesson 1: What is a Watershed? 6-9 Developed by CFWEP as part of our 5-Day Core Middle School Program, this lesson covers:

  • The definition of “watershed”
  • How to describe the watershed in which you reside
  • How regional topography affects surface water
  • Water cycle basics
  • How water pollution affects humans, animals, insects, and plant communities within a watershed
  • How water carries sediment
CFWEP Core Lesson 2: What Happened to Our Watershed? 6-9 Developed by CFWEP as part of our 5-Day Core Middle School Program, this lesson covers:

  • Human and natural impacts to ecosystem health
  • The history of the Upper Clark Fork Basin and western Montana
  • The environmental damages related to historic mining practices in Butte and Anaconda that occurred in the Clark Fork Watershed
  • The mining and smelting process
  • Acid rock drainage
  • Remediation and restoration
CFWEP Core Lesson 3: Measuring Watershed Health I – Biological Indicators 6-9 Developed by CFWEP as part of our 5-Day Core Middle School Program, this lesson covers:

  • Stream health assessment
  • Biological indicator species
  • Vegetation assessment
  • Riparian ecosystems
  • Macroinvertebrate (stream bug) identification
CFWEP Core Lesson 4: Measuring Watershed Health II – Field Trip Practice 6-9 Developed by CFWEP as part of our 5-Day Core Middle School Program, this lesson covers:

  • Measuring water quantity and quality in a river
  • The  parameters used to monitor water quality: temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH,  specific conductance, and metal concentration
  • The relationship between water quality and quantity parameters and how they reflect watershed health
  • Acid rock drainage
CFWEP Core Curriculum Field Trip Materials 6-9 Developed by CFWEP as part of our 5-Day Core Middle School Program, these materials (data sheets, field scripts, student handouts, etc.) can be used to engage students in field science.
CFWEP Core Lesson 5: Watershed Science – Tying It All Together 6-9 Developed by CFWEP as part of our 5-Day Core Middle School Program, this lesson covers:

  • Vegetation population diversity and density
  • Macroinvertebrate population diversity and density
  • Chemical and physical water quality parameters
  • Site specific field parameters that may vary from season to season

Milltown Core Curriculum

*password required for access

Lesson Name
Suggested
Grade Level
Lesson Description / Subjects Addressed
Milltown Education Program Lesson 1: History of the Clark Fork Watershed 6-9 Developed by CFWEP with support from the University of Montana and the Watershed Education Network, this lesson covers:

  • Clark Fork River watershed history from the American Indian period to 1908
  • Western Montana industrial development from the 1830s to 1908
  • Mining impacts (positive and negative) to the area’s social and ecological environments
  • The chemical process of acid rock drainage
  • Milltown Dam history
  • The 1908 Clark Fork River flood and its environmental effects
Milltown Education Program Lesson 2: The Superfund Story 6-9 Developed by CFWEP with support from the University of Montana and the Watershed Education Network, this lesson covers:

  • The 1908 Clark Fork River flood and its environmental effects
  • The Clean Water Act, Superfund Law and how these relate to the Clark Fork/Milltown
  • Milltown Dam Superfund history
  • Bull trout and the habitat
  • Remediation and restoration
  • Opportunity Ponds/British Petroleum-Atlantic Richfield Corporation (BP-ARCO) waste repository
Milltown Education Program Lesson 3: Field Trip and Follow-Up 6-9 Developed by CFWEP with support from the University of Montana and the Watershed Education Network, this lesson covers:

  • Vegetation population diversity and density
  • Macroinvertebrate population diversity and density
  • Chemical and physical water quality parameters
  • Site specific field parameters that may vary from season to season
Milltown Education Program Supporting Files 6-9 Supporting Milltown files include:

  • Listing on online resources related to the Milltown Dam
  • Milltown Timeline Activity materials and answer key
  • Chemical and physical water quality parameters
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