Environmental Chemistry Documentary

An ethical person is one who thinks critically about how they act, what choices they make, what everyday decisions and actions they take. Thinking about how we should act with respect to our environment can happen at a personal, family, community, business, school, organization and global level. As an individual when thinking about our environment we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions like “What does it mean to care for the environment”, “What should I do?” “What sort of actions show that I care?”,” How do I justify my choices?” Making ethical decisions are difficult because our thoughts and actions are influenced by factors like our emotions, perceptions, culture, expectations, religion, personal beliefs, concern for others, obligations and reasoning skills.

The Challenge

Create a three to five minute documentary raising awareness of the importance of making the right decisions about our interactions with water resources.

Before you begin this project, spend a moment in your group reflecting on your own environmental awareness and environmental ethic using the following questions as a guide.
a) Where are you right now in your beliefs, feelings and understanding of how humans are affecting the environment?
b) What are some of the important events and people that have influenced the way you think about the environment? How have they helped you gain a sense of what is the right and wrong?
c) Consider your circle of concern for the environment by thinking about what have you done so far and how you might act in the future.

Stages in Making the Documentary

1. Planning (2 lessons)
  • Identify the big idea (essential question), the environmental issue that your documentary will address. Some possible issues are: Acid Rain, Water Pollution, Access to fresh drinking water, Global warming, Spread of disease, Water treatment, Water disposal, Conservation of water, Waste management, Water footprint, Cultural perspective on Water.
  • Gather information about the issue from at least three credible sources. To do this you may need to search the internet for top water issues or learn about your community. Think on an individual, local and global level. If necessary interview people.
  • Identify the causes or factors that make this an issue
  • Identify practical solutions that will help reduce the negative impact or strengthen the positive impact of the issue.
  • Think about your audience. Who are they? Are you going to try and raise their awareness, encourage them to think or act differently, educate them? How will you communicate your message?

Once the planning is done complete the storyboard using the Pages template. Think of the evidence you will need to collect. This could include still photographs, music, video footage and interviews. It is important that you visualize how you will communicate your message before you get in front of the camera.

2. Production (2 lessons)
Go and shoot or start collecting/producing the artifacts needed to complete the project. Make sure that they connect to your storyboard.

3. Presentation (3 lessons)
Create the documentary using iMovie, GarageBand, iPhoto, iTunes. It should contain at least three different media such as text, still images, video, animation, music, and sound. Remember that MORE IS LESS and SHOW NOT TELL.

It is expected that you will spend an additional two hours of homework time per group each lesson. Flex times can be used to work on your production and presentation. Multimedia equipment can only be used during the school day. If you need to use multimedia equipment outside of class, this must be arranged in advance with Mr Salim.

Roles and Responsibilities

Each group needs students in the following leadership roles.
Producer - Ensures all deadlines are met and final product meets the criteria for an exemplary documentary.
Responsible for signing in and out all multimedia equipment.
Artistic Director - Overall responsibility for ensuring the message is integrated seamlessly and that a human story is told.
Technical Director – Responsible for integrating and editing all multimedia footage.
Camera Operator – Responsible for filming all video footage and locating appropriate still photographs/images.
Script writer – Responsible for the script, research, voice overs and text.


This is a group assessment. An exemplary project will accomplish the following:
Technical Skill - Used multimedia (e.g. video, images, text, music, transitions, special effects) in effective and seamless ways to enhance communication.
Collaboration - Group works together on all aspects of the project effectively, drawing on the strengths of one another. The final product created by all members represents something that would not have been possible to accomplish by working alone. Roles are assigned based on the skills/talents of individual members. All members strive to fulfill their responsibilities.
Audience - The project is useful to an audience beyond the students who created. Raises viewers awareness in a way that encourages them to think and act more ethically with respect to water use.
Content - Information has been compiled from several relevant and reliable sources. Reflects broad research and application of critical thinking skills. Shows notable insight or understanding of the issue.
Acknowledging Sources - Full credit is given to all contributors and sources of information.

Documentaries from the iCan film festival (click on the iCan link at the bottom of the page) give you an idea of techniques that can be used to communicate your message. They represent examples of what is and is not effective.
One to check out is http://sfett.com/html_movie/Ican2/sweatshop.html

Final Documentaries

- from Ms Jordan and Mrs Knowles classes

Cleaning Up Suzhou Creek by Lily, Johnny and Helen

Reducing Water Wastage at School by Victor, Whitney, Vincent, and Kevin

Impact of Water Shortages in Shanghai by Shannon, Jean, Kara and Angela

Reducing Water Wastage by Chris, Emily, Natasha and Hyun Ji

Fresh Water Scarcity by Cloe, Jessie, Faline, and Wenting

Water Pollution by Claudia, Felisa and Dylan

Drinking Water by Hoi Chi, Alex and Karen

Conservation of Water by Laura, Shao Bo and Megan

Eutrophication by Howard, David, Winston and Bubba