Standards-Based Unit of Study - Intermediate Science

Published: 9/28/2012 2:17 PM

Diving into Watersheds


Core Content/Curriculum

SC-E.1.1.1: Objects have many observable properties such as size, mass, shape, color, temperature, magnetism and the ability to react with other substances. Some properties can be measured using tools such as metric rulers, balances, and thermometers.

SC-E-2.1.1: Earth materials are solid rocks and soils, water, and the gases of the atmosphere. Water on earth and in the atmosphere can be a solid, liquid or gas.

SC-E-2.1.2: Earth materials provide many of the resources that humans use. Some earth materials are renewable and some are nonrenewable.

SC-E-3.3.2: When the environment changes some plants and animals survive and reproduce and others die or move to new locations.
Materials Enviroscape Kits (available from KDE or your local Cooperative Extension Agent), cocoa powder (representing soil), oatmeal (animal waste), sugar-free drink mix powder in 2 contrasting colors (fertilizer and pesticide), large bucket, paper towels, various 'rain makers' (i.e., sprinklers, spray bottles), cocoa and water mixture (to represent oil)
assessment strategy informal observations and discussions (see Debriefing Strategies); Observation Record (used as an exit slip or homework)
Grouping whole group
Advanced Preparations Become familiar with the instructional materials that accompany the model of the Enviroscape. Read the suggested steps, but remember to consider the age of the students you are working with and the specific content you are focusing on. Don't feel compelled to go through every step just as the manual outlines.
Procedure Set up the Enviroscape according to the included instructions on page 14 of the manual.
Have students describe what they observe in the Enviroscape model. Discuss the concept of a WATERSHED with the students (see page 16 of the manual). Ask the students: What are some things that you observe in this watershed that may affect or change the water? Lead a discussion all around the various sections of the watershed noting possible sources of change. For example, the soil disturbance and vegetation removal at the construction site will contribute to water pollution. (Pages 17-36 provide information regarding the various pollutants.) Next, create a 'rainstorm' on the Enviroscape. Students should observe how the water is moving and what is happening to each specific area as it rains. Read the story "Big Stream and Blue Lake" to emphasize what is happening to the watershed during the rain.
focus questions (Generated by the teacher in planning the unit)
What is a watershed?
Who or what lives in a watershed?
How can I describe the water in my watershed?
Where does water go when it rains?
After observing the rain on the Enviroscape, prompt students to construct "I wonder…." questions about watersheds. Classify the questions as non-investigative and investigative.
(Non-Investigative) Research
1. Students will work in groups of 2, 3, or 4 to investigate words related to this unit. The words may be introduced by the teacher or the students. Possible words include: erosion, pollution, environment, watershed, sewage, contaminants, fertilizer, pesticide, nutrients, runoff, chemical, toxic, sediment. Utilizing a variety of resources, teams will work to complete the Word Study Handouts. Each team will share their findings with the class.
2. Students will work in groups of 2, 3, or 4 to find information which will allow them to answer a question that was posed in the "I wonder…" phase.
resources websites, trade books, textbooks, videos
materials paper, pencils, Word Study handouts, Research/Data Collection Plan Sheet
assessment strategy group presentations
Students work in teams to investigate one of the questions from the unit. They will utilize the Enviroscape and other resources to make observations and/or collect data.
Enviroscape kit, clay (to represent berms), sticky-backed felt strips and shapes (to simulate wetlands, fences, model trees and shrubs inserted into sponges (to represent root mats of vegetation), cotton swabs (to represent roots in water bodies), Experimental Design Plan Sheet
publication strategy Each group will present their investigation and findings to the rest of the class. Groups will elect a timekeeper, a recorder/reporter, a materials helper, and a leader. The recorder/reporter will be responsible for the oral presentation.
assessment strategy Individual students will complete "What I Did/What I Found Out" papers. (See attached format). They should include the question they addressed, how they investigated it, what they observed/results, and conclusions based on those observations. They should also decide on a "next step" question based on their findings.
Journal writing (ongoing throughout the unit): Possible entry topics include: What is a watershed? What are at least 2 big ideas that you have learned about them? How are the parts of a watershed interconnected? Describe at least 2 ways that the living and non-living things in a watershed are interconnected?
Wonder Some More
next steps May include:
Link to a problem based learning situation that focuses on monitoring the local water supply
Online project: Down the Drain (
Unit that focuses on how the adaptations of animals help them survive in an environment or don't (e.g., endangered species)
Concept/Unit 'Grand Finale'
Students will publish a class magazine of feature articles which deal with the 'burning questions' from the unit.
Utilize the Kentucky Holistic Scoring Guide for writing to evaluate the student's performance.
Developed by Jennifer Francis and Karen Kidwell, 2002
Note: If you'd like to use this unit or amend it to suit your needs, please click on the Word icon below to open it on your computer. Then choose Word's Save As command to save it locally.

Diving into Watersheds
SBUS Watersheds.docSBUS Watersheds.doc
Karen Kidwell
Office of Next-Generation Learners
Division of Program Standards
500 Mero Street, 18th Floor CPT

Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-2106
Fax (502) 564-9848