Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Settle Down: Turbidity and Water Quality

1. Building Background Knowledge

Water is necessary for all life on Earth. Rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, seas, and oceans all serve both human and ecosystem needs. These bodies of water act as habitat for plants and animals, including vertebrates such as fish and mammals, invertebrates such as insects and coral, and plants such as sea grasses and plankton. Bodies of water fill many human needs as well. They provide us with drinking water, food, and recreation such as boating and swimming.

All water bodies are affected by both natural and human-related factors such as rainstorms and spring snow melt, and agriculture and urban development.

Monitoring the physical and biological characteristics of water is necessary to identifying changes in water quality, as well as understanding what causes the changes.


Get in small groups to discuss what you currently know about water quality and water conservation. Your teacher will give each group a worksheet "Building Background Knowledge" to guide your discussions. You will use this worksheet again after viewing the video and after the outdoor activity.