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Watershed & Science Inquiry (4th grade)

Watersheds - Earth science, science inquiry, observation, properties, variables, & evidence

Covalent Brunettes

Introduction

Key concept of this plan is watersheds and conditions that effect it. Amounts of precipitation and kinds or precipitation, slope, surface area, surface type, amount and kinds of plants, and how of these combine to affect the amount of runoff.

Surface types are a combination of kinds of earth materials (soil, rock, sand, clay), sizes of those materials, kinds of vegetation, amounts of vegetation, human made surfaces, and human made materials.

The activities and discussion focuses on observational evidence from experiences and investigations to reason to create explanations of different watersheds and how different variables can be used to develop descriptions, operational definitions, and models as explanations of watersheds.

Together with the idea of science investigation and the many science processes included can be reviewed or introduced. Examples such as how to use properties, variables, experimental evidence, reasoning, explanations, operational definitions, models, and conclusions to create explanations.

Ranges for these variables can be explored from examples to non examples and amounts in between.

Is it possible that all the rain water might run into a river or no rain water might run into a river?

Draw three kinds of watersheds. One where there would be total run off and likely to be flooding, and one where there would be zero run off and there wouldn't be rivers, and an ideal one in between.

Additional ideas are included in the following curriculum mapping.

Concepts

Earth Science - Earth's Surface - watershed

What science says - enduring understanding, big ideas, generalizations)

Watersheds are areas of land where water collects and drains into something else (river, lake, stream, etc.) depending on the shape and surface of the land.

Related concepts and facts -
Outcome - Watershed

Describe with models, writing, and with pictures watersheds as areas of land where water collects and drains into something else (river, lake, streams, water table, ...

Specific outcomes

  1. Describe watershed as ...
  2. Use observation to communicate watersheds are different depending on the given variables such as: land structure, land surface, and soil characteristics.
  3. Describe and explain that the flow of water through watersheds is different depending on the surface of the land.
  4. Describe how watersheds affect our daily lives and relate to the world in which we live.

Inquiry

How science works - science processes

An experiment is when observations are made of objects interacting to collect evidence and reason about them to make explanations and models.

Observation of the properties and how they change are used to predict outcomes and relationships of cause and effect. Those relationships are often explained by describing how the change of one property (variable) affects the change of one or more properties. These are referred to variables.

Related concepts and facts
Outcome - Variables

Identify variables and describe how they operate to effect other variables. (operational definition).

Specific outcomes
  1. Identify variables and suggest how they can be manipulated.
  2. Identify different variables and describe how they are conditions that can be changed and that can affect outcomes.
  3. Compare variables. (different types of soil, different types of land, different amounts of water, ...
  4. Experiment by trying to control all variables, but one, which they will manipulate to determine how that variable operates.
  5. Describe the relationship between different variables for a watershed.
Outcome - Inquiry experiment

Identify questions that can be answered by creating a model watershed, manipulating variables, and observing the results. (experiment).

Specific outcomes
  1. Identify variables that can be used to experiment with and suggest how they can be manipulated.
  2. Describe how the variables will be represented in the model and how they can be used to simulate different situations to see what change might happen.
  3. Relate variables in the experiment to the conditions in a watershed they represent. (Slope of the land, different types of soil, different types of vegetation or other surface coverings, different amounts of water, ...
  4. Experiment by trying to control all variables, but one which they will manipulate to determine how that variable operates.
  5. Describe the relationship between different variables for as represented by the observations from the experiments.

Activities to provide sufficient opportunities for students to attain the targeted outcomes.

Possible Activity Sequence

  1. Water drainage
  2. What is a watershed?
  3. Crumpled sheet of paper and spray bottle rain

Water drainage activity

Materials

Empty half-gallon cardboard milk cartons, gallon plastic milk cartons, samples of soil that are the same size, but have different vegetation (thick, little, no grass), water

Exploration

Focus question: What effects water drainage?

During this time learners discuss their previous knowledge and understandings and begin to explore water drainage; learners should become disequilibrated.

Invention

Focus question: What is a watershed?

Learners will communicate their thoughts and feelings about the experiments they designed; learners should become equilibrated.

Discovery or expanding Watershed Knowledge

Assessments

 

 

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