Little Blue Run Coal Ash Pond

Learning Objectives

Students will read a recent science news article and discuss the content.
Depending the on the article, students may be asked to draw connections to current events or other classroom exercises.

Standards Addressed

Depending on the article, one of these standards may be most appropriate:

Subject Area - 1: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

     Standard Area - 1.3: Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Literature - Fiction and Non-Fiction

          Grade Level - 1.3.6: GRADE 6

               Standard - 1.3.6.A: Read, understand, and respond to works from various genres of literature

                    Assessment Anchor - R6.A.2: Understand nonfiction appropriate to grade level.

Preparation Time Needed

<30 minutes, enough time to read the article and associated questions, answer the questions, and possibly come up with more that are relevant to recent class exercises. 

Activity Description

(Part of the PAESTA In The News - Current Events in Earth and Space Science Series. This series compiles current resources and background materials for recent scientific events in the news. Questions are provided with each topic, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, and can be used for classroom discussion and/or as a writing prompt at the beginning/middle/end of an instructional unit.)

Southwest Pennsylvania is home to one of the largest U.S. impoundments for waste ash from coal power plants.  But has the damage from Little Blue Run coal ash pond already been done to the land, air, water, and humans?

Articles to Share with Students

General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • Where is Little Blue Run Pond located?  Find the location on a map, and make note of the surrounding landscape and population.
  • What is a coal ash pond?  How does one form?  How did Little Blue Run develop?
  • Why does Little Blue Run have to shut down by 2016?  What would happen if it did not? 
  • What are some of the concerns expressed by the citizens living near Little Blue Run?
  • What are additional environmental impacts that could happen to this region?
  • What do you think will be the impacts on the hydrosphere in this region?
  • If a leak/contamination were to occur from Little Blue Run, could the contamination be contained?  Who should be responsible to do the clean up and pay for it?
  • Based on what you have learned about energy production with coal, do you think we should continue this process as a source of energy or explore other sources (wind, solar, etc.)?  Why/why not?

Compiled September 1, 2012, by L.A. Guertin. Teachers are encouraged to search for more recent articles and related discoveries.

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