Soup Can Water Budget

Jason Cervenec
,
Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center
Author Profile

During this first of five activities, students use materials to create an apparatus and process to investigate the ultimate destination for water falling on a watershed. Students make quantitative measurements and compare two different soil substrates. The first activity results in a mental schema for how water ultimately flows through a system.

Context

Audience:

This activity was developed for an introductory geosciences class at the high school level. It has also been successfully used at the middle school and advanced high school levels.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:

Students must be able to measure volumes and create an apparatus and lab procedure to conduct a simple investigation.

How the activity is situated in the course:

This activity is part of a sequence of activities (first of five activities).

National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity:

Objectives
  • Matter is made of particles; this includes soil and water.
  • Matter is conserved. In other words, matter, and the particles that make it up, can neither be created nor destroyed.
  • For convenience, measurements of volume rather than mass are often used by Earth scientists to monitor quantities of water in natural systems. (For this unit, we will ignore volume changes that occur due to changes in temperature.)
  • In a soil and water system, where soil particles are assumed to be fixed, measuring the volume of water added to a system and the volume of water that leaves a system provides a way to estimate the volume of water that remains within a system.
  • While water particles are most commonly added to a soil-water system via rain, they can be removed via evaporation, uptake by plants, surface runoff, and subsurface runoff. Water particles can also be stored in the system.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:

A deliberate effort has been made to use best practices in science education when designing this activity. The activity is based around the 5E Learning Cycle and each investigation is an exercise in guided inquiry. Topics are introduced conceptually in qualitative ways before engaging in extensive quantitative measurements and calculations. While lectures can be used to quickly communicate the information contained in the activity, an explicit goal is to provide ways for major objectives to be "uncovered" and discussed in context of content-rich learning experiences. Hopefully, this will engage students, link content with real-world situations, and support deep understanding and long-term retention of knowledge. This activity is best delivered with a connection to one or two local watersheds. Many online resources referenced in this activity allow teachers to tailor instruction to their local environment and identify local professional who can offer instructional support and serve as guest speakers or site visit coordinators.

Other skills goals for this activity:

Description of the activity/assignment

During the first activity, students use materials to create an apparatus and process to investigate the ultimate destination for water delivered to a system. Students make quantitative measurements and compare two different soil substrates. The first activity results in a mental schema for how water ultimately flows through a system.

Determining whether students have met the goals

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity, Lab Activity
Grade Level: High School (9-12), Middle (6-8):Middle - 8
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