To Fertilize or Not To Fertilize
A Chemistry Web Quest

IntroductionNiagra Falls

The city of Chemville is very concerned about its ground water supply. This is the only source of water for the city. In an attempt to reduce pollution the Chemville City Council is considering an ordinance to ban the use of mineral fertilizers in favor of organic fertilizers.

The city council is having an open hearing concerning this issue in two weeks, but they do not have enough information to make an informed decision. They have assembled your Web Quest Team (which will have between 2 and 4 members) to provide them with facts and data that will either support or oppose the ordinance to ban mineral fertilizers. The more comprehensive the report, the better it will be received by the council, and this in turn will lead to additional research jobs for your committee (which is good!)

Your specific Question is:

When you have completed this WebQuest you should have achieved the following goals:

Your final research paper must be in a form that can be understood by the city council. Technical statements must be limited to the individual points of view while the introduction and conclusion sections will be written for non-scientists. Your presentation should be compelling enough to convince the council to vote on the ordinance in accordance with your point of view.

The Process daffodil flower

Create a Web Quest Team of between two and four members. Each team member will represent one of four possible perspectives:

The Environmentalist has one main goal: to preserve the quality of the environment. Water pollution and soil pollution are top on this person's list of concerns.

The Landscape Contractor is interested in developing and maintaining lush yards, flower beds and gardens. This person will be influenced by the desire to have great looking landscapes as well as cheap prices for the shrubbery and landscaping materials.

The County Extension Agent supplies information concerning growth and maintenance of grasses and plants to the community. This job is influenced by votes and politics, so the agent must take into account the desires of the public.

The Homeowner and avid Gardener wishes to have the best lawn and biggest vegetables possible. This person will also be influenced by the sanctity of the environment, but they will also be affected by higher prices for fertilizer, plants, etc. Once each Web Quest Team member has read the description of their perspective you are ready to begin your project.

Resources picture near the Olympics in Washington

You will need information relevant to the perspective you have chosen. Begin your search by viewing sites like these:

There are additional sites which can be used; use Google to find them. Some of these will be pro-organic fertilizer, while some will be pro-mineral fertilizer.


After completing this Web Quest I hope you will have gained an appreciation for the varying viewpoints on this controversial subject. At Mt. Hood Community College, this debate occurs frequently. Teams of faculty and staff have encouraged the grounds keeping people from using certain types of chemicals on our gardens, but since "they are as safe as Nutrasweet" the grounds keeping people have not heeded the health warnings sent to them. Maybe you can think of a way to bring this dilemma to a conclusion?


Each Web Quest Team member can receive a maximum of 5 extra credit points for completing this Web Quest. Three points shall address the perspective statement created by each individual Team member, and two points shall address the group work used to complete the paper.

Grading shall be based on neatness, spelling errors, accuracy of information gathered, quality of list of references, and similar criteria. In addition, each participant shall anonymously complete an evaluation form for each Team member which will affect the final grade. For more information, contact the instructor.

WebQuest originally developed by Mary Rietbrock at Warrensburg High School in Warrensburg, Missouri, USA,
and adopted as appropriate by Michael Russell at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, USA