I’m Made of Water!
(Grades 5 -12) Tracing our “water address”, water quality in upstream and downstream watersheds, how clean is clear water, how pollution concentrates in birds, river hydrology changes over decades using old maps, invasive species impacts on wildlife and habitat (Standards LS1.A, LS1.B, LS1.C, LS2.A, LS2.B, LS2.C, LS4.C, PS3.D, ESS2.C, ESS3.C, ESS3.D)
1. What’s my Water Address?
Students identify where they live on various laminated maps, trace their water connections to the oceans with dry-erase markers, a write a complete “water address” – all the way to their house through the wastewater systems.
5 laminated Flathead Valley Wetlands maps, # 3 in tube
Maps # 4 and # 5 (Columbia river Drainage) in binder for teacher copies
Laminated Topo maps of Whitefish, Kalispell, Columbia Falls, Bigfork
2. We’re all Downstream (and Upstream) from Somebody
Students use laminated maps (with overlays showing political units and human developments) to dry-erase trace all the connected streams back to their sources for four branches of the Flathead River. They then draw the boundary around all the connected water to identify the “watershed”. They then do the same with the Flathead being a sub-watershed of the Columbia, and discuss effects of downstream and upstream actions.
2 maps # 2 (unmarked physiographic Northern Rockies maps)
4 clear overlays for #2 above
Maps #4 and #5 copied from binder
3. Water Pollution Dilution Solution?
Students simulate a point-source toxin using a succession of clear glasses of water and food coloring, adding a small amount of water from each to the next one in line. Water in the last glass looks clean, but is it?
6 clear plastic cups
red food coloring
4. “Concentrating” on River Birds
Following up on “dilution” above, students do a math exercise with role-playing a simple food chain from phytoplankton to osprey. They use poker chips of Increasingly larger value to follow the “energy units” needed to sustain an osprey to breeding age. The teacher shows the math in a long equation on the board as students use large-number calculators. (Phytoplankton produces ten units, and when done, the osprey needs about 10 quadrillion units.) Then the students are informed that they were really following molecules of DDT or other persistent toxins. A discussion of “bioaccumulation” follows.
5 laminated photos of riparian trophic levels
Internet access to large-number calculator
5. The Changing River
Students will use large-scale aerial photos of the braided Flathead River just east of Kalispell from the 1930’s, 1950’s, 1970’s, 1990’s and recent – to chart with clear overlays and dry-erase markers the channel-shape changes over time. The Flathead River has been nearly everywhere in Valley over the last 10,000 years, as is shown by the fossil channel marks on the photos. Students will examine the rates of channel change, and whether dams and historic floods have affected the birds-eye look of the river.
4 aerial photos of the Lower Flathead Valley from 1950’s to present
6. Tadpole Pond
Students do a simulation to evaluate land use options around a woodland pond using “footprint” cutouts of different kinds of developments, interest groups, aerial photos and topographical maps.
2 laminated photos of pond
8 laminated topo maps
8 laminated aerial photos
5 supplemental Water Table maps
8 laminated Land Use Areas pages
2 laminated topo map legends
8 dry-erase markers
Clear bag of 6 wetlands posters
Wetlands of the Flathead Valley folded map in binder