sustainability MATTERS targets learning in Science 9 Unit C: Environmental Chemistry.

Find student learning sources and competency-based activities by scrolling down to the sustainability MATTERS topic banner on the LEARN webpage. This topic can be implemented through a project-based approach or by implementing the learning sources in each carousel slide as one-to-two class activities. The specific learning outcomes listed below are supported in sustainability MATTERS. Find a correlation of relevant outcomes to each activity in the Project and Activity Guide.



1. Investigate and describe, in general terms, the role of different substances in the environment in supporting or harming humans and other living things

  • Identify common organic and inorganic substances that are essential to the health and growth of humans and other living things, and illustrate the roles served by these substances (e.g., identify calcium as an essential material for bones; identify minerals that are known to enhance plant growth but that limit growth if too little or too much is available)
  • Describe, in general terms, the forms of organic matter synthesized by plants and animals, including carbohydrates, proteins and lipids
  • Describe and illustrate processes by which chemicals are introduced to the environment or their concentrations are changed (e.g., dilution in streams, biomagnification through food chains)
  • Identify questions that may need to be addressed in deciding what substances – in what amounts – can be safely released into the environment (e.g., identify questions and considerations that may be important in determining how much phosphate can be released into river water without significant harm to living things)

2. Identify processes for measuring the quantity of different substances in the environment and for monitoring air and water quality

  • Identify substrates and nutrient sources for living things within a variety of environments
  • Describe and illustrate the use of biological monitoring as one method for determining environmental quality (e.g., assess water quality, by observing the relative abundance of various vertebrate and invertebrate species)
  • Identify chemical factors in an environment that might affect the health and distribution of living things in that environment (e.g., available oxygen, pH, dissolved nutrients in soil)
  • Apply and interpret measures of chemical concentration in parts per million, billion or trillion
  • Identify acids, bases and neutral substances, based on measures of their pH (e.g., use indicator solutions or pH meters to measure the pH of water samples)
  • Describe effects of acids and bases on living things

3. Analyze and evaluate mechanisms affecting the distribution of potentially harmful substances within an environment

  • Investigate and evaluate potential risks resulting from consumer practices and industrial processes, and identify processes used in providing information and setting standards to manage these risks (e.g., interpret and explain the significance of manufacturer’s information on how wood preservatives can be safely applied; recognize that some individuals may have greater sensitivity to particular chemical substances than do others in the general population)
  • Identify and evaluate information and evidence related to an issue in which environmental chemistry plays a major role (e.g., evaluate evidence that the use of insecticides to control mosquitoes has an effect/has no effect on bird populations)

Appreciate that scientific understanding evolves from the interaction of ideas involving people with different views and backgrounds (e.g., consider more than one perspective when formulating conclusions, solving problems or making decisions on environmental quality issues)

Seek and apply evidence when evaluating alternative approaches to investigations, problems and issues (e.g., consider observations and ideas from a number of sources during investigations and before drawing conclusions; strive to assess a problem or situation accurately, by careful analysis of evidence gathered)

Work collaboratively in carrying out investigations and in generating and evaluating ideas (e.g., assume responsibility for their share of work in preparing for investigations and in gathering and recording evidence; consider alternative ideas and approaches suggested by members of the group)

Demonstrate sensitivity and responsibility in pursuing a balance between the needs of humans and a sustainable environment (e.g., show respect for all forms of life; modify their behaviour in light of an issue related to conservation and protection of the environment; recognize that the materials people use may have environmental consequences when people dispose of them)


Ask questions about the relationships between and among observable variables, and plan investigations to address those questions

  • Identify science-related issues (e.g., identify issues regarding the use of soil fertilizers)
  • Identify questions arising from practical problems and issues (e.g., ask questions about the needs of different living things for nutrients and about the mechanisms by which these nutrients are obtained)
  • State a prediction and a hypothesis about the concentration or dispersal of a chemical substance within an environment (e.g., state a hypothesis that relates the amount of oxygen in a local water sample to the presence or absence of dissolved nutrients)
  • Select appropriate methods and tools for collecting data and information and for solving problems (e.g., design an investigation to compare the chemical characteristics of two soils)

Conduct investigations into the relationships between and among observations, and gather and record qualitative and quantitative data

  • Identify data and information that are relevant to the issue
  • Select and integrate information that is relevant to the issue (e.g., demonstrate proficiency in uploading and downloading text, image, audio and video files)
  • Use instruments and materials effectively and accurately for collecting data (e.g., measure and compare the pH in household products, foods and environments)
  • Organize data, using a format that is appropriate to the task or experiment

Analyze qualitative and quantitative data, and develop and assess possible explanations

  • Identify and suggest explanations for discrepancies in data (e.g., identify possible reasons for variation in the measured concentration of a chemical, where one sample is very different from others or where one group has a very different result from others)
  • Identify the line of best fit on a scatterplot, and interpolate or extrapolate based on the line of best fit (e.g., interpret class data on the effects of acidity on mould growth, graph the data, prepare a line of best fit, and predict the amount of growth that might be expected at different acidity values)
  • Apply given criteria for evaluating evidence and sources of information (e.g., use scatterplot data in evaluating how strong a relationship exists between two variables; evaluate claims of environmental impacts, based on the scope and relevance of supporting evidence)
  • Identify new questions and problems that arise from what was learned

Work collaboratively on problems; and use appropriate language and formats to communicate ideas, procedures and results

  • Work cooperatively with team members to develop and carry out a plan, and troubleshoot problems as they arise
  • Receive, understand and act on the ideas of others (e.g., seek and achieve group consensus on procedures to be used in an investigative activity, and act on that consensus)
  • Defend a given position on an issue or problem, based on their findings (e.g., provide a clear rationale for a choice between alternative chemical products in a consumer application)

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