Zebra Mussels and Water Pollution

Allen Nelson John P. Altgeld School
1340 W. 71st. Street
Chicago IL 60636


The main objectives of this Mini-teach are to show the proliferation of
zebra mussels and their effects on local bodies of water.

Materials needed:

zebra mussels (obtain at any boat dock) hand lens
paper plates rulers
5 foot piece of plastic rain gutter a plastic toy boat
tape water
black pepper or poppy seeds


1. Begin by going to a boat dock or marina to obtain the mussels. You might
also walk along the lakeshore and look for rocks that have some zebra
mussels attached to them.
2. If possible allow the students to pull a mussel off a rock.
3. Place the zebra mussels on a paper plate. Allow the students to examine
them with a hand lens. Have the students measure their mussels.
4. Have the students identify the basic structures of a zebra mussel.
5. Discuss how the zebra mussel is a biological invader.
6. Have the students brainstorm on possible ways zebra mussels were introduced
into Lake Michigan.
7. Obtain a plastic toy boat. Drill two holes in the bottom of the boat. From
the top place tape over the holes.
8. Pour water into the boat to simulate how a boat takes on ballast water.
9. Remove the tape to show how a boat releases its ballast water.
10. Retape the holes. Place poppy seeds in the boat to represent a zebra mussel
11. Repeat step #8.
12. Place the boat over the rain gutter and repeat step #9.
13. Have the students discuss the proliferation of the zebra mussel.

Performance Assessment:

At the conclusion of the Mini-teach students will be able to answer the
following questions:
1. What is the environment of the zebra mussel?
2. How did the zebra mussel reach Lake Michigan waters?
3. Where were zebra mussels first discovered?
4. How are filtration plants dealing with zebra mussel populations?
5. How are boaters and marinas dealing with zebra mussel populations
6. How does the introduction of a new population affect the present ecosystem?
7. How does the zebra mussel population affect water conditions?


Students will understand how a biological invader was introduced into Lake
Michigan and how it affected man and the ecosystem.

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