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Teachers Questions for Dead Zones

SCIENCE

Before reading:

  1. What do sea animals and plants need to survive in the water?
  2. What allows large quantities of algae to “bloom” in coastal waters? And why is the growth of these communities a good thing or a bad thing?

During reading:

  1. What is a dead zone?
  2. How many dead zones have scientists at the World Resources Institute found in the world?
  3. Name three sources of the extra nutrients that enter the ocean because of people.
  4. What are phytoplankton? How do they trigger dead zones?
  5. What eats phytoplankton when they die?
  6. Why do dead zones often form in spring and summer?
  7. How long do dead zones last?
  8. Where does the pollution that causes the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone come from?
  9. Why was the 2011 dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico not as big as scientists thought it would be?
  10. Where do natural dead zones occur? How are they different from the ones caused by people?
  11. Explain why the dead zone near Oregon’s coast may be forming.
  12. Name three reasons why the Chesapeake Bay’s dead zone is getting smaller.
  13. How many dead zones are improving, according to the World Resources Institute?

After reading:

  1. Plants and animals need nutrients to live. But too many nutrients can cause dead zones. Can you think of any other situations when too much of a necessary substance causes problems? (Hint: think about global warming)

SOCIAL STUDIES

  1. Why is it important for society to try to fix dead zones?
  2. What types of changes would you recommend that communities could undertake to slow the flow of nutrients into coastal ocean waters?
  3. Do you think the costs associated with these changes would make sense? (Hint: What do you think the costs might be of letting big dead zones continue to form?)
  4. Make an argument (at least three paragraphs long) explaining why farmers should — or shouldn’t — have to pay the full cost of reducing nutrient fertilizer off of farmlands by themselves (as opposed to having tax dollars help pay their costs). One thing to consider: Society as a whole benefits from farm products, not just farmers.

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