Storm Water Runoff Pollution

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

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This activity (located on page 8 of the PDF) introduces learners to the concept of Non-point Source Pollution--what happens when rain washes garbage and other pollutants into rivers and lakes. Through this demonstration, learners observe how water systems are connected and how pollution in their own backyard can affect larger water supplies.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Large clear Tupperware
  • Sand, grass clippings (pollutants)
  • Food coloring (pesticides)
  • Spray bottle
  • Cooking oil (motor oil)
  • Sprinkles (fertilizer)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and the Environment

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Chicago Children's Museum, 2008