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Main Page | Teaching Guide : Cape Cod : Everglades : Los Angeles | Student Guide | Download PDF

Cape Cod for Teachers


The Cape Cod project in this curriculum packet asks students to consider the following Focus Question: Cape Cod has a serious problem with its ground water. During more than six decades, the activities at the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) - formerly known as Camp Edwards, then Otis Air Force Base - on the Upper Cape have resulted in contamination of billions of gallons of underground water. (The Upper Cape is the western part of Cape Cod, including the following towns: Bourne, Sandwich, Barnstable, Mashpee, and Falmouth.)

You and your group are members of a blue-ribbon panel that has been formed to present a plan for providing safe, drinkable water to the Upper Cape for the next 10 years. You know of the contamination problem with the underground water supply. You also know how many Cape Cod residents will require water; your panel has been given data that describe the predicted increase in the region's population. Now, you and the members of your panel must figure out how the Upper Cape will meet its need for safe ground water in spite of the vulnerability of its water supply to contamination. To develop an answer to this complex question, students will:

  • learn about how Cape Cod's unique geology makes the ground-water supply vulnerable to contamination,
  • create a working model of an aquifer, and
  • discover how hydrogeologists gather data to describe the composition and movement of contaminated ground-water plumes.

At the end of this project, students should produce a presentation or paper to share with the class. Their presentation will discuss what they believe will be western Cape Cod's ground-water needs for the next decade, how well the existing water supply will meet those needs, and what other sources of uncontaminated ground water exist. Students will use what they have learned about how geology, water use, and wastewater disposal interact to develop a water-use plan. They will support their plan for supplying the area with safe, drinkable water with the information they received in the Student Packet, their understanding of the availability of ground water and human responsibility for maintaining its quality, and the lessons they learned as they completed the three activities in this packet.

An excerpt from Seth Rolbein's book, "The Enemy Within: The Strug-gle to Clean Up Cape Cod's Military Superfund Site," is included to demonstrate to your students that these environmental problems involve real people and real concerns. It is reprinted here with the permission of the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod, a local environmental organization, and does not imply an endorsement of Rolbein's book by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Main Page | Teaching Guide : Cape Cod : Everglades : Los Angeles | Student Guide | Download PDF

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