Teaching with the Web:
A Collection of Online Treasure Hunts and Webquests


Pollution-Free Alburquerque: A WebQuest for First & Third Year High School (Science)

Authored by A. Jandayan, E. Salon, and P. Arinto

During the summertime, the dumpsite area becomes a living hell. The intense heat of the sun causes some kind of chemical combustion that cause smoke to come out of the garbage pile, which engulfs the whole area. Breathing becomes a problem, leading to asthmas and allergies. When the rain comes, the Payatas area becomes a water trap. This produces other forms of sickness such as diarrhea, typhoid, worms, and other forms of stomach illness. In some instances the illness progresses to irreversible physical damage leading to death.

This photo and description are of the Payatas dumpsite in Metro Manila. But a few years from now, these could well be about any other town in the Philippines, including ours. Pollution is everywhere, even in Alburquerque, Bohol.

Composed of 11 barangays, Alburquerque is a fishing village famous for its pottery and calamay products. It is the home of more than 7,000 inhabitants. A sweeping look around the village suggests that it is a pristinely clean community. But is it? Letís find out for ourselves.

The Task
As members of the community, you have been chosen to conduct research on the causes, effects, and prevention of pollution in the 11 barangays of our town.

You will work in groups of four or five members. Each group will study the four types of pollution in a barangay (air, water, land, and noise), their causes, and their effects on health and quality of life. Your output will be a collage showing all of the above information.

1. Your teacher will divide the class into groups of five members each. Each group member must choose a role to play. The roles are:

Pollution Expert #1 Do research on extent and causes of land and water pollution in the barangay assigned to the group
Pollution Expert #2 Do research on the extent and causes of air and noise pollution in the barangay assigned to the group
Health Worker Find out the effects on the health of barangay inhabitants of the four forms of pollution
Environmentalist Find out how the pollution in the barangay is being addressed by barangay inhabitants. If there are no anti-pollution measures in place, then make concrete suggestions for reducing and/or preventing pollution in the barangay.
Illustrator/Photographer Take pictures of instances of pollution in the barangay, and illustrate the measures for reducing and/or preventing pollution in the barangay

Each group will be assigned one barangay to study.

2. Begin your research work by doing some background reading. Here are some websites you can use, in addition to your textbooks and class discussion of the various types of pollution.

Index to web resources on pollution
(Click on the links to websites on air, land, noise, and water pollution)


Land Pollution

Causes and Sources of Surface Water Pollution

Air Pollution - Causes

Causes and Effects of Noise Pollution

You have one week to do the background research.

3. Do your field research. That is, as a group visit the barangay assigned to you and look for signs of land, air, water and noise pollution. Interview some of the barangay inhabitants, the barangay captain, the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources official, and the barangay health workers and ask them for examples of land, air, water and noise pollution in their barangay, and the effects of these on the peopleís health. Ask also about what the barangay is doing or intends to do to address their pollution problems.

Since you have only one day to visit the barangay, it would be best to prepare for this visit very carefully. Your teacher should send a letter to the barangay captain informing him/her of your visit and its purpose (including the date) and requesting that you be allowed to interview him/her and other barangay folk. You should write down the questions you need to ask. You should also bring a notebook and some pens for note-taking.

An important step in preparing for the interview is doing the background reading. You should have general knowledge about pollution, its different forms, and its effects BEFORE you visit the barangay. Then you can ask specific questions or look for specific examples when you visit the barangay. For example, from your background reading you know that air pollution causes asthma, among others. You can then ask the barangay health worker if there are cases of asthma in the barangay and whether these are caused by air pollutants.

Do the interviews as a group so that your informants/interviewees will not be annoyed by having to give separate interviews. Be sure to take down detailed notes, including the names of informants/interviewees.

4. After you have gathered all of the data that you need, consolidate your groupís findings and prepare your groupís collage.

You have one week to do this. Your teacher will put up all of the collages around your classroom for everyone to see so make sure that your collage contains the right information, is comprehensible, and is appealing/interesting to viewers. Be creative. For guidance on how your collage will be graded, see the Evaluation section.

Submit your collage on the due date.

5. Accomplish the self-assessment and peer evaluation forms and submit these to your teacher on the due date.

Your groupís collage will be evaluated using the following rubric:  

Criteria Very Good
(5 points)
(3 points)
Needs Improvement
(1 point)
Content The collage contains specific information on the causes and effects of pollution in the barangay, as well as concrete measures for reducing the pollution in the barangay. The information given is specific to the barangay but is incomplete. For example, not enough concrete measures for reducing pollution are given or one form of pollution is left out. The information presented in the collage is too general (not specific to the barangay) or is very much incomplete (for example, only one form of pollution is included).
Organization The contents of the collage are well organized or logically presented. Or the contents are presented in a way that immediately makes sense to the viewer. The contents of the collage are mostly well organized. Only one or two items are out of place. Or the organization of information in the collage is such that some items are not properly emphasized. The information is poorly organized. Information is mixed up or is presented in a confusing way.
Graphic design The collage is visually appealing, with the correct combination of text and photos/ drawings and appropriate choice of color. The visual appeal of the collage is not so strong because some pictures, illustrations, or text are lacking or not well highlighted, or colors are not well chosen. The collage has little or no visual appeal, as there are too few pictures or illustrations, the text and pictures do not complement each other, and the colors clash or do not go well together.

Your individual grades will be computed from the score for your group output, your score in the self-assessment, and your score in the peer evaluation, thus:
Item Percent of Total Score for Project
Group output (collage) 70%
Self-assessment 15%
Peer assessment 15%
TOTAL 100%

You will learn from doing this webquest that pollution has many causes, some easily determined and others much harder to figure out. You should also find out several ways to prevent pollution and dispose of hazardous materials properly. Sometimes there are alternative resources that may be used in place of hazardous materials, and other times you just have to know how to use them properly. You have an important role to play in keeping the balance of nature. Make your environment a safe and healthy place to live in.