Through eight lessons, students are introduced to many facets of dams, including their basic components, the common types (all designed to resist strong forces), their primary benefits (electricity generation, water supply, flood control, irrigation, recreation), and their importance (historically, currently and globally). Through an introduction to kinetic and potential energy, students come to understand how dams generate electricity. They learn about the structure, function and purpose of locks, which involves an introduction to Pascal's law, water pressure and gravity. Other lessons introduce students to common environmental impacts of dams and the engineering approaches to address them. They learn about the life cycle of salmon and the many engineered dam structures that aid in their river passage, as they think of their own methods and devices that could help fish migrate past dams. Students learn how dams and reservoirs become part of the Earth's hydrologic cycle, focusing on the role of evaporation. To conclude, students learn that dams do not last forever; they require ongoing maintenance, occasionally fail or succumb to "old age," or are no longer needed, and are sometimes removed. Through associated hands-on activities, students track their personal water usage; use clay and plastic containers to model and test four types of dam structures; use paper cups and water to learn about water pressure and Pascal's Law; explore kinetic energy by creating their own experimental waterwheel from two-liter plastic bottles; collect and count a stream's insects to gauge its health; play an animated PowerPoint game to quiz their understanding of the salmon life cycle and fish ladders; run a weeklong experiment to measure water evaporation and graph their data; and research eight dams to find out and compare their original purposes, current status, reservoir capacity and lifespan. Woven throughout the unit is a continuing hypothetical scenario in which students act as consulting engineers with a Splash Engineering firm, assisting Thirsty County in designing a dam for Birdseye River.
Students gain a basic understanding of the properties of media soil, sand, compost, gravel and how these materials affect the movement of water (infiltration/percolation) into and below the surface of the ground. They learn about permeability, porosity, particle size, surface area, capillary action, storage capacity and field capacity, and how the characteristics of the materials that compose the media layer ultimately affect the recharging of groundwater tables. They test each type of material, determining storage capacity, field capacity and infiltration rates, seeing the effect of media size on infiltration rate and storage. Then teams apply the testing results to the design their own material mixes that best meet the design requirements. To conclude, they talk about how engineers apply what students learned in the activity about the infiltration rates of different soil materials to the design of stormwater management systems.
Students will observe/investigate the movement of water through the different stages of the water cycle and determine what drives this cycle. Students are asked to think about what precipitation is then watch a video about why the water cycle is important. They observe a simple version of the water cycle and take some notes. Students are asked what stages require solar radiation, which require water to give off heat, and which are driven by the force of gravity. The teacher does several different demonstrations while students fill in a sheet that has the students recording their observations of different processes in the water cycle and how energy is involved. Students build their understanding of the water cycle through the different models that are shown or experienced. The culminating activity has them create their own model of the water cycle from the viewpoint of a water molecule including the processes, the energy involved, and gravity.
Between 70 and 75% of the Earth's surface is covered with water and there exists still more water in the atmosphere and underground in aquifers. In this lesson, students learn about water bodies on the planet Earth and their various uses and qualities. They will learn about several ways that engineers are working to maintain and conserve water sources. They will also think about their role in water conservation.
Students are presented with a guide to rain garden construction in an activity that culminates the unit and pulls together what they have learned and prepared in materials during the three previous associated activities. They learn about the four vertical zones that make up a typical rain garden with the purpose to cultivate natural infiltration of stormwater. Student groups create personal rain gardens planted with native species that can be installed on the school campus, within the surrounding community, or at students' homes to provide a green infrastructure and low-impact development technology solution for areas with poor drainage that often flood during storm events.
The University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research and College of Education teamed up to develop free eighth grade science curricula on land use and climate science, in response to Iowa’s grade level alignment of the middle school Next Generation Science Standards.
Primary author Dr. Ted Neal, clinical associate professor of science education, led a team of graduate and pre-service teaching students and CGRER scientists to develop the material. They grouped standards, resources and lesson material into six bundles, each designed to engage Iowa’s middle schoolers with local data and information on relevant topics like athletic concussions and agriculture.
These lessons are built on NGSS principles and put learning in the students’ hands with hands-on activities for groups and individuals. Kids will have ample opportunity to get curious, generate questions and lead themselves to answers.
Through multi-trial experiments, students are able to see and measure something that is otherwise invisible to them seeing plants breathe. Student groups are given two small plants of native species and materials to enclose them after watering with colored water. After being enclosed for 5, 10 and 15 minutes, teams collect and measure the condensed water from the plants' "breathing," and then calculate the rates at which the plants breathe. A plant's breath is known as transpiration, which is the flow of water from the ground where it is taken up by roots (plant uptake) and then lost through the leaves. Students plot volume/time data for three different native plant species, determine and compare their transpiration rates to see which had the highest reaction rate and consider how a plant's unique characteristics (leaf surface area, transpiration rate) might figure into engineers' designs for neighborhood stormwater management plans.
Students use everyday building materials sand, pea gravel, cement and water to create and test pervious pavement. They learn what materials make up a traditional, impervious concrete mix and how pervious pavement mixes differ. Groups are challenged to create their own pervious pavement mixes, experimenting with material ratios to evaluate how infiltration rates change with different mix combinations.
Middle School Water Quality Curriculum SynopsisDesign your own wetland science field trip or have WREN staff visit your classroom.Programs address Oregon State Science Standards and Common Core State Learning Standards. Purpose of the Water Quality Curriculum: • For students to model the scientific method, engineering, math, and social studies practices. • To explore and solve problems along the Long Tom River Watershed. • To use tools and technology to collect data and use that data to answer questions.• To engineer solutions to real-life problems and learn how to resolve water quality disputes in real-life scenarios. Each lesson can be integrated into our 2-hour tour of the West Eugene Wetlands (WEW). How much time is required for the lesson, the best season, and where the lesson is best experienced is indicated next to the lesson tile._______________________________________________________________________________________________What is a Watershed? Activity/ 50 minutes (Class or WEW):It’s recommended that all classes begin their wetland field study with this fun and interactive, whole-body activity that investigates how vegetation affects the movement of water over land surfaces and identifies best management practices to reduce erosion. Science Standards: MS-ESS2; MS-ESS2-4. Earth’s Systems: Develop a model to describe cycling of water through earth’s systems driven by energy from the sun and force of gravity._______________________________________________________________________________________________Wetland Soil Study/ 90 minutes (WEW- Fall or Spring):Students will learn the history behind the unique composition of soil in the southern Willamette Valley, discover how wetland soils have an important role in filtering and cleaning the water that runs through them, explore and record the physical characteristics of wetland soil using a Munsell Chart, measure the hydric capacity of different types of soil, and make the connection between soils and water in a wet prairie. Science Standards: MS-ESS2-2. Earth’s Systems: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.Common Core Standards:Mathematics7.EE.B.4. Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world of mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about quantities.______________________________________________________________________________________________ Water Quality of Amazon Creek/ 90 minutes (WEW- Fall and Spring):Through experimentation and a simulation, students will learn how increases in water acidity have endangered the quality of life for water-based organisms in parts of Eugene. Students will model water molecules under different circumstances, test water samples from Amazon creek for dissolved oxygen, PH, and temperature and learn how these variables impact the quality of life in our waterways. Science Standards: MS-PS1-1. Matter and Its Interactions: Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.Common Core Standards:Mathematics 6.SP.B.4. Display numerical data in plots on a number line, including dot plots, histograms, and box plots.7.EE.3. Solve multiple real-life & mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form. _______________________________________________________________________________________________Flood-Plan Engineering Design/ 90 minutes (WEW or Class- Fall, Winter, Spring):Students will learn about historic floods in the Willamette Valley, and explore flood dynamics by building models of riverbeds and testing their holding capacity. Students will use engineering to design systems that will help prevent flood damage and learn about how human modifications to a river or wetland can alter the floodplain.Science Standards:MS-ESS3-3. Earth’s & Human Activity: Apply Scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.MS-ESS3-2. Earth’s & Human Activity: Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their efforts.MS-ETS1-1; 1-4. Engineering Design: Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved. Common Core Standards:MathematicsMP.2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively._______________________________________________________________________________________________Water Quality Debate/ 60 minutes (Class- Fall, Winter, Spring):Students will demonstrate how disputes regarding water quality and quantity can be settled through mediation by playing character roles in a mock Town Hall Meeting. They will develop and engage in an evidence supporting argument surrounding a local water-related issue, evaluate arguments presented by others of different viewpoints, and decide on a resolution.Science Standards:MS-LS2-5. Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy and Dynamics: Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem servicesCommon Core Standards:ELA/LiteracyMS-LS-2-2. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one on one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on other’s ideas and expressing their own clearly. MS-LS2-2. Present claims or findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning and adequate well-chosen details, use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and other pronunciation.
Students apply their understanding of the natural water cycle and the urban "stormwater" water cycle, as well as the processes involved in both cycles to hypothesize how the flow of water is affected by altering precipitation. Student groups consider different precipitation scenarios based on both intensity and duration. Once hypotheses and specific experimental steps are developed, students use both a natural water cycle model and an urban water cycle model to test their hypotheses. To conclude, students explain their results, tapping their knowledge of both cycles and the importance of using models to predict water flow in civil and environmental engineering designs. The natural water cycle model is made in advance by the teacher, using simple supplies; a minor adjustment to the model easily turns it into the urban water cycle model.
Through an overview of the components of the hydrologic cycle and the important roles they play in the design of engineered systems, students' awareness of the world's limited fresh water resources is heightened. The hydrologic cycle affects everyone and is the single most critical component to life on Earth. Students examine in detail the water cycle components and phase transitions, and then learn how water moves through the human-made urban environment. This urban "stormwater" water cycle is influenced by the pervasive existence of impervious surfaces that limit the amount of infiltration, resulting in high levels of stormwater runoff, limited groundwater replenishment and reduced groundwater flow. Students show their understanding of the process by writing a description of the path of a water droplet through the urban water cycle, from the droplet's point of view. The lesson lays the groundwork for rest of the unit, so students can begin to think about what they might do to modify the urban "stormwater" water cycle so that it functions more like the natural water cycle. A PowerPoint® presentation and handout are provided.
Students learn about the techniques engineers have developed for changing ocean water into drinking water, including thermal and membrane desalination. They begin by reviewing the components of the natural water cycle. They see how filters, evaporation and/or condensation can be components of engineering desalination processes. They learn how processes can be viewed as systems, with unique objects, inputs, components and outputs, and sketch their own system diagrams to describe their own desalination plant designs.
The lesson introduces students to the steps of the water cycle and rivers. They think about the effects of communities, sidewalks and roads on the natural flow of rainwater. Students also learn about the role of engineering in community planning and protecting our natural resources.
This series of ten lessons has been developed to teach students about local and global water issues. They are based on NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission. The activities are done largely outdoors and include scientific data collection and analysis and integrate technology. Many of the lessons involve data collected based on protocols from the GLOBE Program. Each lesson is designed to take one hour; the lessons build on each other, but can also be used independently. Each lesson topic includes a lesson plan, PowerPoint presentation, student capture sheet and capture sheet answer guide.
Groundwater is one of the largest sources of drinking water, so environmental engineers need to understand groundwater flow in order to tap into this important resource. Environmental engineers also study groundwater to predict where pollution from the surface may end up. In this lesson, students will learn how water flows through the ground, what an aquifer is and what soil properties are used to predict groundwater flow.
Engineers design and implement many creative techniques for managing stormwater at its sources in order to improve and restore the hydrology and water quality of developed sites to pre-development conditions. Through the two lessons in this unit, students are introduced to green infrastructure (GI) and low-impact development (LID) technologies, including green roofs and vegetative walls, bioretention or rain gardens, bioswales, planter boxes, permeable pavement, urban tree canopies, rainwater harvesting, downspout disconnection, green streets and alleys, and green parking. Student teams take on the role of stormwater engineers through five associated activities. They first model the water cycle, and then measure transpiration rates and compare native plant species. They investigate the differences in infiltration rates and storage capacities between several types of planting media before designing their own media mixes to meet design criteria. Then they design and test their own pervious pavement mix combinations. In the culminating activity, teams bring together all the concepts as well as many of the materials from the previous activities in order to create and install personal rain gardens. The unit prepares the students and teachers to take on the design and installation of bigger rain garden projects to manage stormwater at their school campuses, homes and communities.
The water cycle game helps you learn how water molecules move through various places including rivers, the ocean, the earth’s surface, the atmosphere and clouds. Actions such as evaporation, runoff, condensation, precipitation, soil absorption and ground water expansion move water from one zone to another.
Students learn about floods, discovering that different types of floods occur from different water sources, but primarily from heavy rainfall. While floods occur naturally and have benefits such as creating fertile farmland, students learn that with the increase in human population in flood-prone areas, floods are become increasingly problematic. Both natural and manmade factors contribute to floods. Students learn what makes floods dangerous and what engineers design to predict, control and survive floods.
The best way for students to understand how groundwater flows is to actually see it. In this activity, students will learn the vocabulary associated with groundwater and see a demonstration of groundwater flow. Students will learn about the measurements that environmental engineers need when creating a groundwater model of a chemical plume.