The Chesapeake Bay is North America’s largest estuary. With
an area of 64,000 square
miles residing in six states and the District of Columbia, the Bay
provides a home to about 3,600 species of wildlife. The Chesapeake
Bay and its watershed are an important natural resource to the region
as a source of seafood, a hub for commerce, a natural habitat, and
a place for people to enjoy its beauty. But why is a watershed important?
How do different types of pollution affect the Chesapeake Bay? What
actions are groups recommending that people take to conserve this valuable
resource? In this WebQuest, you will explore Virginia’s watersheds
and the Chesapeake Bay to find the answers to these questions.
Your job in the WebQuest is to learn about the Chesapeake Bay and
its watershed. You will investigate the Chesapeake Bay and its importance
as a key to Virginia’s environmental health. You will answer
a set of questions about watersheds and the Chesapeake Bay to demonstrate
what you have learned. Once you’ve conducted some research to
increase your knowledge of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, you’ll
create a brochure of information targeted at a specific audience. The
purpose of this brochure is to help the group you select understand
the importance of the Chesapeake Bay, become informed about the effects
of pollution to this ecosystem, and offer specific steps for conserving
the Bay and its watershed.
First, read through the following set of questions before you being
your Internet research. As you explore each site, look for answers
to the questions.
Questions about the Chesapeake Bay and its Watershed
- What are the names of Virginia’s major watersheds? Which
watershed do you live in? What tributaries are in your community’s
- Select a Virginia city/county or stream. Search for water quality
data collected from that station. Select a station that has had at
least three visits for the purpose of collecting water quality data.
Analyze information from several different visits to write a description
of the water quality sampled at that station over a period of time.
How has the water quality at that station changed over time? What
parameters are used to evaluate water quality?
- What types of pollution have the greatest impact on the Chesapeake
Bay? What is being done to reduce their effects on the ecosystem?
- What types of animals, plants, and microorganisms are native to
the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed? What are nonnative species,
and why do they present problems to the Bay’s ecosystem?
- What actions are government agencies and citizen groups recommending
to improve the conservation of the natural resources of the Chesapeake
Bay and its watershed?
Next, visit the Web sites listed to find more ideas you can use
to create a brochure about the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed and
its importance as a freshwater resource.
Choose a target audience for your information. Some suggestions might
- elementary school students
- scout groups
- environmental organizations
- senior citizen groups
- new residents to the region
Decide what the focus of your brochure should be. Think about including
information related to:
- the history of the Chesapeake Bay
- how different types of pollution threaten the Bay and its watershed
and steps that can be taken to reduce its impact
- steps that can be taken to improve the Bay’s water quality
- how different animal and plant populations affect the Chesapeake
- the importance of the Chesapeake Bay and its watersheds to the
economic health of the region
Think about the audience you’ve chosen as you design and write
your brochure. Use text, pictures, charts, maps, and graphics to convey
your message. Use a writing style and voice that effectively communicates
your information to your target audience.
Look at the Web sites given here to find information that will help
you answer questions about watersheds (specifically the Chesapeake
Bay watershed) and the Chesapeake Bay itself. You will gather this
information to use as you design your brochure.
The USGS provides information on its Chesapeake Bay activities at
this site. Explore the topics to learn more about the bay.
Project Learning Tree has an interactive site to help you find out
about Virginia’s 14 watersheds. Find the watershed that matches
the county you live in.
The map and table on this page at the Virginia Department of Conservation
and Recreation lists the major tributaries for the 14 Virginia watersheds.
Find out which tributaries are in the watershed you live in.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality provides information
about natural resources for the state at their Web site. Investigate
water quality monitoring data by selecting either monitoring stations
by County/City or monitoring stations by stream. Select a city/county
or a stream from the pull-down page, then click the “Query”
button. Click the link under Station ID to find information about
a water quality monitoring station. Then choose the link that says
Click here for list of Samples by Date and Time to find specific data
collected at that location.
Visit this page on the U.S. Geological Survey’s Web site to
learn more about water quality and how this important indicator is
The State of Kentucky’s division of water offers information
about dissolved oxygen levels in water and why dissolved oxygen is
important to aquatic life.
Learn more about how water quality is monitored by reviewing samples
collected from monitoring stations.
Read about measures being taken to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake
Bay at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Web site.
The Chesapeake Bay Program’s site provides information related
to bay pollutants. Read about the different types of pollutants affecting
the Bay and steps being taken to reduce their impact.
This page at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s site describes
the effects of nitrogen pollution as well as strategies to reduce
the impact of this type of pollution.
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay provides specific information
about pollution problems the Chesapeake Bay suffers from and strategies
for reducing pollution. Scroll down the page to read fact sheets about
the history and description of pollution problems and solutions for
some of the Chesapeake Bay’s tributaries and for the Bay itself.
This page offers specific information about the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem
and environmental factors affecting its health. Read about the human
impact on the Chesapeake Bay to understand a historical and current
The Chesapeake Bay Project’s site offers information about animals
and plants that are native to the Chesapeake Bay. Read about different
types of species and how the Bay provides a unique and ideal habitat
for these creatures.
Read about the Invasive Species in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed workshop,
held in 2002. Follow the links to read about different species of
animals and plants that are exotic to the Chesapeake Bay watershed,
and find out how these populations affect the health of the ecosystem.
The Virginia Department of Natural Resources provides information
on their Web site about the diversity of animal and plant life in
the Chesapeake Bay. Visit each of the links to learn more about the
biodiversity of the Chesapeake Bay.
This article, written for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, describes
how nonnative animals and plants have made an impact on the Chesapeake
Nutria, rodents considered native to South America, are believed to
pose a threat to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Read about this
animal and the damage it causes to the ecosystem.
This article, at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Web site,
describes regulations designed to reduce runoff from animal farms
into the Bay.
Read about the Adopt a Stream program, aimed at reducing litter and
advancing understanding of the importance of Virginia’s waterways
at this page on Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation
Visit this page from the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland,
to view real time water quality data from the Fort McHenry Field Station
on the Chesapeake Bay.
This article, found at the Center for Technology in Education at the
Johns Hopkins University’s Web site, discusses soil conservation
strategies that can be used to help conserve the Chesapeake Bay’s
Read about nonpoint source pollution and strategies to reduce its
impact on freshwater environments at the Virginia Department of Conservation
and Recreation’s Web site.
The Chesapeake Bay Program’s Web site provides a wealth of information
about the Chesapeake Bay.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) devotes this part of its
Web site to general information about our nation’s watersheds.
The EPA’s Surf Your Watershed pages include this informational
page about the lower Chesapeake Bay watershed. Click the links to
find data from government and citizen organizations.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is a conservation organization whose
mission is to save the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Visit their Web site
and click different links to find current information about the watershed.
Visit this interactive page to learn more about the different features
of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Visit the Eyes on the Bay page to get current data and information
about the Chesapeake Bay.
You may use these resources to help you develop your brochure.
1–2 weeks to answer the set of questions and design, write,
and produce the brochure
In the process of completing this WebQuest, you’ve learned
about the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. You have gathered information
to answer questions about this topic and have increased your knowledge
of the importance of the Chesapeake Bay. You’ve also used your
informational writing skills to create a brochure that informs a specific
group about the research you’ve conducted and conveys the message
effectively. These skills are applicable to many different subject
areas as well as to real-world tasks. Your research and brochure will
contribute to helping other people be more informed about the Chesapeake
Bay and its watershed, which will help them become more aware of conserving
this important natural resource.