Pollution Pathfinder

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children." ---Ancient Native American Proverb

Scope Statement

This pathfinder will support a research project based on the general study of pollution and can help to find focused topics that fall under the subject of pollution such as air pollution, water pollution, recycling, and more. This research tool will help the student to find numerous authentic and current sources that would be needed for a noteworthy science project that will demonstrate the knowledge of an environmental issue.

Iowa Core Curriculum Essential Concepts and Skills (Grades 6 – 8)

Life Science

        • Understand and demonstrate knowledge of the social implications of environmental issues.
        • Understand and demonstrate knowledge of the personal implications of environmental issues.
        • Chapter 12 of the Iowa Administrative Code states that science instruction shall include conservation of natural resources.


        • Information Literacy: engage in the information literacy process to access, evaluate, and communicate information and ideas.
        • Mathematics Literacy: students should have the ability to recognize, make, & apply connections: to recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics, to formulate questions that can be addressed with data, to collect, organize, and display relevant data: develop and evaluate inferences and predictions.

21st Century skills

        • Civic literacy: involves the rights and responsibilities of each citizen.
        • Technology literacy: plan strategies utilizing digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information for this project.

Suggested Dewey Decimal Areas and Search Terms

Energy and the environment
Environmental issues/ Acid rain
Sanitation / Toxic threat / Recycling
Air pollution / Greenhouse / Ozone hole
Water quality management
Sewerage / Sewerage disposal / Water reuse
Oil spill
Soil / Endangered planet
Environmental protection
Biomass energy / Power resources
Recycled tires

Suggested Keywords

Air pollution
Acid Rain
Air pollution controls
Greenhouse effect
Greenhouse gas
Smog/ Smoke
Special Waste
Environmental change
Global warming
Environmental effect
Alternative power
Renewable resources
Landfill problems
Natural resources
Going Green
Noise pollution
Water pollution
Environmental health

Do not forget to use Boolean operators like AND, OR, and NOT.
(example: air AND pollution NOT oxygen).
Can also use truncation. (example: recycl*)
Can also use quotation marks. (example: “conservation of resources”)

Reference Collection


Discovering Science (Gale/UXL)

Gives quick access to accurate and current information. Use content level guide and Boolean operators help to narrow searches.
Search: Use keyword like e-waste, global warming, or whichever keyword(s) help with your focus.


This is a reputable website with encyclopedia information along with a dictionary, atlas, thesaurus, timelines, and more. Also special helps like a homework center, he & science, and Fact Monster on left side of page.
Search: Example – go to Health & Science, then Environment & Nature, then Environment where you will find articles listed under Facts about the Environment, Environment in Turmoil, Going Green, and more. Or, could look up noise pollution in the Homework Center or water pollution in Fact Monster.

Living Green (World Book)

Many encyclopedic articles have photos along with the title and summary, is very user friendly. Pollution link gives dozens of pollution topic ideas.
Search: Click on pollution on first page or search for a particular keyword like going green.

Scholastic Children’s Encyclopedia Ref Sch

Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia. Cincinnati: Scholastic Reference, 2004. Print.
This encyclopedia has a good section on pollution, also information on conservation, plastics, ozone layer, WWF for Nature and Friends, and more. Topics are easy to find and index is clear.
look up a keyword, going to the correct volume (example: E for environment) or use index which will list the correct volume.

Science Online (Facts on File)

Useful resource for any science topic. Provides articles, essays, photographs, videos, experiments, and more.
Search: Use keyword like “greenhouse effect”, can use advanced search for specific kinds of information like photographs.

The World Book Encyclopedia Ref Wor

Book, Scot Fetzer Company & World. World Book: The World Book
Encyclopedia 2005 Edition. Chicago: Scot Fetzer Co./World Book, Chicago,
2005. Print

World Book is a great way to start an exploratory search, giving many possible keywords within the encyclopedic articles.
Search: Use index or go directly to volume (example: P for pollution).


World Book Online

World Book remains a reliable, straightforward, and up-to-date reference resource that is a great starting point for practically any topic. Use any keyword that interests you for general information, can also get more specific information as focus develops.
Search: Put a keyword in search bar and look at articles and new keywords of interest.


Ref Ame

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 4 ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.

Many words related to pollution and environment with lots of colored photos, maps, and illustrations. Great resource to begin your research.
Search: look up a keyword of interest and read definition to become clear about that topic and to discover other keywords.

EPA’s Dictionary of Environmental Terms, Acronyms, and Abbreviations

Look up any term you like from any of the keywords and get an in depth definition. A good dictionary of environmental terms, provided by the EPA. The portion that is devoted to acronyms and abbreviations is particularly helpful.
Click on letter of keyword (example: R for recycle) to find a simple definition but also look through list of other words which may inspire another search.

Biographical Source

Gale Biography Resource Center

This resource gives accurate biographical information. Searches can be based on a name, occupation, nationality, ethnicity, a keyword, and more.
Search: Find text articles about people involved with your subject (example: for environment, search for Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day).


Google Earth

Get images and information about different kinds of pollution around the world.
Search: Type in pollution in search earth gallery, find information about light, air, and water pollution.

The World Factbook

The U.S. government’s geographical handbook that has worldwide facts. Can focus in on a particular country like the United States.
Use keyword pollution to discover pollution, go to World, The World Factbook which lists worldwide important events like increased concerns about environment.


Marshall Cavendish

Great resource for science curriculum including disciplines like biology and ecology. Can focus on specific subjects like Earth and the Environment. Is visually appealing and authoritative resource.
Use any of the suggested keywords like global warming.


Recommended Databases


Can go to: Searchasaurus, Kids Search, Student Research Center,
Elementary Databases, and Middle School Databases. These databases have numerous resources for students, from magazine and newspaper articles to books and encyclopedias. There are many choices for research.

Search: Type in keyword of choice like like pollution for Searchasaurus, like recycling for Kids Search, like biofuel for the Student Research Center, like water pollution under Primary Search for the Elementary Database, and like landfill under Middle Search Plus for the Middle School Databases. Note: use articles with HTML Full Text.


Database designed exclusively for schools giving resources for science, mathematics, language arts, and more curriculum areas.
Search: type in keyword like air pollution, can go to article like KidsRgreen: Air Pollution. Can search further under Environmental Health.

Recommended Websites

AIRWeb (EPA) Air Pollution Data

AIRWeb gives you access to air pollution data for the entire United States. Want to know the highest ozone level measured in your state last year? Ever wonder where air pollution monitoring sites are located? Are there sources of air pollution in your town? This is the place to find out!
Search: Use keyword like ozone, then can “narrow by subject” on left side of page (example: transportation industry) or can go to specific “related questions & answers” on right side of page.

CERCLIS (Superfund) Hazardous Waste Sites

Locate Superfund hazardous waste sites by region, state, county or city. Sites that are no longer on the Superfund list can be found in the archive at http://cfpub.epa.gov/supercpad/arcsites/srchsites.cfm Reviews and fact sheets can be accessed.
Search: Click on “Search Superfund Site Information” button. Example form – mark Iowa, Region 7 (IA, KS, MO, NE), and all agencies. Find what companies are on the NPL (National Priorities List). Can also find the company’s cleanup progress and impact summary.

EPA Official Website

This is the official website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) It has comprehensive links information on a broad range of environmental topics and specific topics relating to Air Pollution. Great site if air pollution is your focus.
One example — go to Air Pollution Effects, click on Acid Rain. Will bring up different acid rain sites under Quick Finder, also lots of specific Acid Rain information on left side of page to click on.

Fact Monster : Major Air Pollutants

This particular web site lists the major air pollutants. It explains that air pollutants can lead to global warming, acid rain, and the deterioration of the ozone layer.
the URL will take you directly to air pollutants and gives a chart with common pollutants, their sources, and their effect on the environment.

Pollution Prevention (EPA) Homepage

Links to current awareness sources, programs, grants, publications, and other Pollution Prevention sites and sources. Excellent Page.
Search: Sample search – under quick finder, click on recycling, then recycle to find the benefits of recycling and steps to recycling.

State Environmental Agencies

This Directory contains links to state environmental and natural resource regulatory agencies.
Search: Click on Iowa, then Environmental Agencies, then the Environmental Protection Commission. On left, can choose a DNR program like Environmental Services such as water related issues.

Fiction Books

Book: Just A Dream F Van

Allsburg, Chris Van. Just a Dream. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Print.
No one could call Walter an environmentalist until a dream he has shows him what the future will be like, depending upon his present choices.
Can find in researcher with title or author, can also use keyword environment.

Book: Agatha’s Feather Bed: Not Just Another Wild Goose

Story F Dee

Deedy, Carmen Agra. Agatha's Feather Bed: Not Just Another Wild Goose Story. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 1994. Print.
This beautifully illustrated book shows that everything on earth comes from something else, like silk from silkworms and down feathers from geese.
: Can find in researcher with title or author, can also use keyword recycle.

Magazine Articles

Second-Hand Pollution. Futurist, May/Jun2010, Vol. 44 Issue 3, p4-4, 1/5p; (AN 48924493)

EBSCO URL: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,uid
This article warns that older manufacturing technology in Third World countries tends to be more polluting than newer, more efficient manufacturing equipment. Should consumers be informed that the less expensive product might be “expensive in other ways?
Search: Go to EBSCO, then Student Researcher using the search term pollution.

BOUNDARIES FOR A HEALTHY PLANET. By: Foley, Jonathan. Scientific American, Apr2010, Vol. 302 Issue 4, p54-57, 4p; (AN 48452443)

EBSCO URL: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,uid
Article tells about boundaries for environmental processes, three of which are in the danger zone: biodiversity loss, nitrogen pollution, and climate change.
Go to EBSCO, then Student Researcher using the search terms pollution AND environment.

Newspaper Article


Birmingham Evening Mail, January 5, 2010 Tuesday, FEATURES; Pg. 34, 1035 words, Kate Hodal
Rod Library (LexisNexis Academic)

LexisNexis is a great resource for newspaper articles from all over the world.
Go to Rod Library, then databases A – Z, then LexisNexis Academic, search keyword biogas, then article #5.


Weather Smart: Ozone and Pollution.

Alan Sealls, 2001. Full Video.
10 April 2010. <http://www.discoveryeducation.com/

DE Streaming
Video shows good and bad ozone, what part pollution plays with ozone problems, and environmentally friendly solutions are discussed.
Use keyword air pollution and then click on the full video: Weather Smart: Ozone and Pollution.

Recycled Life (DVD)

38 min. DVD by ALLGlad, Inc. 2006.
For trailer, go to
This documentary shows people who live in the largest landfill in Central America, they call this toxic waste place home.
Search: Go to website and click on video.


Mrs. Nicki Smith would like to help you out at any time with helping you to find your project focus or with finding the right resources for your project. She believes that every question is important and deserves an answer.