Every day, Americans use water for drinking, washing, cooking,
irrigating crops, and other life-sustaining tasks. With so
much dependence on water, it is crucial to understand how
land usage in the watershed areas impacts local bodies of
water - and subsequently our drinking water.
In this project, students learn about watersheds by researching,
mapping, and surveying their local watershed area. They then
choose a body of water from within the watershed to determine
its health. Along the way - students work with local officials,
site monitoring groups, and experts to determine the health
of their chosen site. Their findings, along with recommendations
of what works and doesn't work in water conservation, serve
as the core of their student-designed public awareness campaign!
This project incorporates elements of the scientific
Middle school, but can be adapted to suit other grades
Up to 1 semester
Main focus on environmental science, with language arts and
social studies connections
- Learn about the importance of watersheds and how they impact other bodies of water such as groundwater.
- Identify and analyze the local watershed.
- Evaluate the health of a local body of water and its effect
on the environment.
- Plan, publicize, and execute a project to create awareness
of the condition of the local watershed and body of water.
- Gain an understanding of elements of the scientific method
and use elements of it to conduct steps of the project.
- Use technology to work cooperatively.
- North American Association for Environmental Education
Excellence in Environmental Education: Guidelines for Learning
Strand 1—Questioning and Analysis Skills (Guidelines A,
B, C, D, E, G); Strand 2.2—The Living Environment (A, C,
D); Strand 2.3—Humans and Their Societies (C, E); Strand
2.4—Environment and Society (A, B); Strand 3.1—Skills for
Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues (A, B,
C, D); Strand 3.2—Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills
(A, B, C, D); Strand 4—Personal and Civic Responsibility
- Technology Foundation Standards for Students
Standard 1: Basic operations and concepts; Standard 3: Technology
productivity tools; Standard 4: Technology communications
tools; Standard 5: Technology research tools.
Using what they've determined about the health of their local watershed, students raise awareness in their explaining the importance of clean water and the activities that contribute to keeping it that way (and discouraging the ones that don't!). Students communicate their findings by creating a Web page, or written or PowerPoint presentation, and share this information by distributing flyers, visiting nearby schools, or contacting a local planning board. An illustrated article, scrapbook, Web site, or video serves as a reflection piece for students at the end of the project.
- Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster
- Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer
4.0 or above
- Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32
MB of RAM
- Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz)
running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
- RealPlayer plug-in. Download for free at http://www.real.com
- WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT video (optional)
- Data records (Excel, or notebook or log book)
- Drawing paper and markers, crayons, or colored pencils
- Software for presentations (all optional) - Word; Excel; PowerPoint; or Quark
- Equipment to document project for final assessment (all optional): camera, video, or audio recorder
- Site testing kits (vary according to your experiment design), but most likely will include a water and soil testing kit - you may be able to borrow kits from your local university, or try the sites listed in resources for cheap or free resources
Teacher tool Web sites
Soil testing kit
Water testing kits
Bookmark these Web sites for student
to Procedures page
- American Groundwater Trust
The American Groundwater Trust is a not-for-profit organization
dedicated to the education and preservation of healthy groundwater.
It also showcases local technology regarding groundwater
- Conservation Information Technology Center: Know Your
This site provides information on what a watershed is, why
watersheds are important, types of pollution that affect
watersheds, and how to get to know your local watershed.
- CyberWays and WaterWays: Watershed Mapping Survey and
en/tryThisAtHome/ wqs_ lesson6HO1.pdf
Use this lesson plan developed by Texas Watch, to get specific
instructions on how to create a topographical map of your
- Earth Force's Global Rivers Environmental Education Network
#Identifying Watershed Problems
This Web site offers a wealth of resources for identifying
and monitoring contaminated watersheds. It includes an online
monitoring database and community action tool.
- Environmental Protection Agency: Contact Information
Scroll down to the map and click on your region to get contact
information for or to e-mail questions to your local EPA
- EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water
This EPA site offers basic information about healthy groundwater
and drinking water and provides activities and lessons for
- EPA Office of Water: Surf Your Watershed
This section of the EPA site has information on how to locate
and learn about watersheds in your area.
- EPA: Watershed Information Network
This Web page contains a simple definition of a watershed,
a helpful diagram, and an extensive water glossary.
- EPA: Water Atlas
Water Atlas tracks and maps Americas bodies of water,
their usage, their health, and steps being taken to improve
- Environment Canada: Water Pollution Site
Read why water and keeping it clean is so important.
- Give Water a Hand
This site is devoted to informing young people about the
part they can play in protecting bodies of water. Download
action plans and more.
- The Groundwater Foundation
This site contains an easy-to-understand question and answer
section about the basics of groundwater and its place in
the hydrologic cycle. Also, visit the Kids Corner section
learn easy ways to protect groundwater.
- National Wildlife Federation: Take Action
This site gives great advice on how to contact local media,
write press releases, plan campaigns, and more.
- River Network
The River Network is a national organization that connects
river conservationists with the information that they need.
The site provides listings of local and national resources.
Since there is so much information on this site, you may
want to preview it with your students.
- United States Geological Survey: Learning Web
This site contains a wealth of information about water as
well as many USGS- approved links to other relevant sites.
Visit the online activity center (http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/msac.html)
or explore the water Q&A section to learn interesting
facts about water (http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/
- WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT: Hot Topics - Water page
This page provides a general overview of the importance
of water. Also, visit http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/wue/
glossary_water.html for a glossary of water terms.