Lesson Plan

Flowing Waters

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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Sixth Grade
Subject:
Earth Science, Hydrology, Mathematics
Duration:
1 hour
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
Setting:
in the park
National/State Standards:
Colorado Science: 5th grade 3.1, 6th grade 3.2, 3.3
Colorado Math: 4th grade 1.3, 4.1; 5th grade 1.2, 4.1; 6th grade 1.2, 4.1
Keywords:
surge flow, stream flow

Overview

Students will learn to calculate stream flow and creatively seek ways to refine and improve a scientific measurement process.

Objective(s)

Students will learn to calculate stream flow and creatively seek ways to refine and improve a scientific measurement process.

Background

Hydrologists calculate flow on rivers and streams to understand how much water is available for human consumption, agriculture, livestock, industry, and for wildlife habitat. Traditionally, stream flow is calculated as the unit "cfs" (cubic feet per second).

Explore Great Sand Dunes' web page on hydrology for more on the flowing waters of the dunes.

 

Materials

Shallow stream (Medano Creek or Mosca Creek), several yardsticks and measuring tapes, pencil and notebook, stopwatch, floating object (cork, colored bobber or ping pong ball), colored ribbon or bright tape attached to a stick

Stream Flow Worksheet (PDF below)

Students will get wet so be sure to bring extra clothing

Procedure

Assessment

  1. Why are there differences in the groups' calculations?
  2. Could the flow be different in the different sections of creek?
  3. What natural processes could have affected measurements?
  4. Where were the measurements most accurate?
  5. What steps could have created errors?
  6. How could the process be modified to reduce the potential for errors?

Extensions

Older students can practice calculating stream flow using Go with the Flow.

Vocabulary

flow, reach, velocity