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Variable Rivers

Jill Baumtrog
,
National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics
Author Profile

This activity is designed to be used as an introduction to rivers and river processes. Students will be working in small groups to test an isolated variable in rivers; they will test either the amount of water, velocity of water, or steepness of the river bed to determine how those variables affect the size and shapes of rivers.

Context

Audience:

This activity is designed for an Earth Science class, 6-12th grade.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:

Students should be able to do or have experience with the following:

How the activity is situated in the course:

This is activity can be used as an inquiry-based experiment to introduce rivers and erosion, or it can be a supplemental activity for a rivers unit.

National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:

Minnesota Academic Standards: Science Content K-12

GRADE 6
I. HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE
B. Scientific Inquiry
The student will understand that scientific inquiry is used in systematic ways to investigate the natural world.

GRADE 7
I. HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE
A. Scientific World View
The student will understand that science is a way of knowing about the world that is characterized by empirical criteria, logical argument and skeptical review.

B. Scientific Inquiry
The student will design and conduct scientific investigations.

GRADE 8
I. HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE
B. Scientific Inquiry
The student will understand that scientific inquiry is used by scientists to investigate the natural world in systematic ways.

GRADE 8
I. HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE
B. Scientific Inquiry
The student will use multiple skills to design and conduct scientific investigations.

GRADE 8
III. EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE
A. Earth Structure and Processes
The student will identify Earth's composition, structure and processes.

GRADE 9-12
III. EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE
A. Earth Structure and Processes
The student will understand that the interactions of the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and space have resulted in ongoing change of the Earth system over geologic time.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity:

The content goals for this activity is to identify three variables that work together to shape rivers: amount of water, velocity of water, and angle of the riverbed. In addition, students will analyze how each of these variables affect the depth of the river, width of the river, and the size of the delta.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:

The goals for the higher order thinking skills in this activity are formulation of hypotheses, synthesis of ideas, criticial evaluation of models, and analysis of data in order to communicate results with the class.

Other skills goals for this activity:

The goals for other skills in this activity are successfully working in cooperating learning groups, performing a laboratory experiment, and creating a presentation to the class of the results.

Description of the activity/assignment

This activity begins with class brainstorming about what rivers look like and what affects the appearance of rivers. Students use their prior knowledge and critical thinking skills to design and perform an experiment. Students isolate one river variable, conduct their experiment, and analyze the data. Students first work in groups of three to conduct the experiment, then meet with other students who tested the same variable to present information to the class.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students are assessed by how well they work in their cooperative groups, how well each performs their task, the written up portion of the lab for quality and content, and how well they communicate their results to the class.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

http://www.nced.umn.edu

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Geoscience:Hydrology
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Grade Level: High School (9-12), Middle (6-8)
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Topics: Hydrosphere/Cryosphere

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