Turbidity and erosion (Years 3-4)

A waterway in Moreland City Council

This lesson plan explores the link between turbidity, a measure of water clarity, and erosion. It also highlights the effect of high levels of turbidity on the survival of living things in freshwater environments. 

Water may flow directly into a waterway, over land as run-off, or through drains as stormwater. Either way, this water can collect silt, clay or soil particles and significantly contribute to waterway pollution. An increase in turbidity results in a decrease in the water clarity, and has harmful effects on aquatic animals and plants.

Identifying the causes and effects of increased turbidity on the local catchment helps the community to understand and appreciate the influences of their own actions on waterway health.

Download the lesson plan

This lesson plan contains modules explicitly linked to the Victorian Curriculum.


Activity 1: Turbidity explained

Students explore the factors that affect turbidity in waterways.

Activity 2: Linking turbidity and erosion

In this activity students investigate how streambank erosion affects the turbidity of a waterway.

Activity 3: Measuring and interpreting turbidity 

Students measure and compare turbidity readings using a turbidity tube.

Activity 4: Erosion in action game

Students identify ways in which we can minimise the impacts of erosion on the quality of water in the creeks around Melbourne.

Victorian curriculum links

  • VCSSU056: Science knowledge helps people to understand the effects of their actions
    Science > Science understanding > Science as a human endeavour
  • VCSSU058: Different living things have different life cycles and depend on each other and the environment to survive
    Science > Science understanding > Biological sciences
  • VCSSU044: Objects are made of materials that have observable properties
    Science > Science understanding > Chemical sciences
  • VCSSU062: Earth’s surface changes over time as a result of natural processes and human activity
    Science > Science understanding > Earth and space sciences
  • VCGGK082: Types of natural vegetation and the significance of vegetation to the environment, the importance of environments to animals and people, and different views on how they can be protected; the use and management of natural resources and waste, and different views on how to do this sustainably
    Geography > Geographical knowledge > Diversity and significance of places and environments
  • VCGGK083: Similarities and differences in individuals’ and groups’ feelings and perceptions about places, and how they influence views about the protection of these places
    Geography > Geographical knowledge > Diversity and significance of places and environments


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