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Alternate Activities

(Teachers: After the students have completed the activity, you can share with them the actual decision of the Newark Board of Pollution)

Suggestion for using The Challenge of Newark's Water Supply: Students can work in small groups or pairs on this activity. There are many documents to be examined, and students may benefit from concentrating on a few documents and sharing their findings in small groups. These groups can then write and present their speech together.


  • Draw a map of the pollution sources and cities that used the water from the Passaic River. Get a printable blank outline map of New Jersey. Use Professor Leed's report to map out the location of industries, sources of sewage, and the cities that used the Passaic as their water source. After the locations are marked, follow the path of the water as it travels to Newark. How much pollution do you think it has gathered by the time it reaches Newark? Check your answers using the map from Professor Leed's Report. You can also use this list of questions in conjunction with the map.
  • Instead of writing persuasive speeches (or in addition to), the students could create a public education pamphlet or poster to inform the public of the information gathered by scientists. The posters could inform the public of the dangers and source of water pollution.
  • Use the statistics to make charts and graphs showing the death rates in New Jersey. Do they get better or worse over time? What do you think accounts for these changes?
  • Compare the death rate statistics in Newark to those of other major cities. Was the death rate higher or lower? Do you think the water supply was the main cause?
  • What is the Newark water supply like today? Research the current quality of water in Newark, NJ. See suggested websites
  • Document Analysis: Use the Critical Analysis Written Document Sheet to analyze one or more of the documents under the Resource Links to the left.
  • Each of the testimonials emphasizes a different problem in using the Passiac River. Have students read through the testimonials and make a list of all the problems they can find. They can use the testimonials in conjunction with the map to better understand the various types of pollution.