Water & Watersheds

Teaching about the water cycle can be made more realistic and valuable for students by incorporating what they know about water-where it comes from, what happens to it after they use it, and what problems are associated with its use. Watersheds, the land area draining into a single body of water, can be considered a basic unit of the landscape that determines water availability, movement, and quality. When students study watersheds, they learn in a personal way about the importance of water, and how land use affects surface and groundwater.

Broken Water Cycle


When we think about the water cycle, most of us think of a diagram with arrows moving from alpine peaks into the big, blue ocean. Unless we live in such a place, this idealized diagram does not teach us where our water comes from or what happens to rain that falls on our neighborhoods.  These lessons can also be used to explore your schoolyard water cycle using hands-on activities.  

  • Exploring our Local Water Cycle

    Students will know how the water cycle has been altered by humans using local data.  

  • Our Runoff

    Student collect data about their schoolyard, neighborhood and town to estimate the amount of water that runs off these places into a nearby stream.

  • Balancing the Water Budget of a Leaf

    After building a basic knowledge of the water cycle and water in their schoolyard, students investigate the water budget of a leaf.

  • Water Seekers

    Students will explore where water exists inside and outside of their school and create a class bar graph of their data.

  • Puddle Study

    Students will know how to map puddles on their school property and investigate what lives in the puddles.  

  • Where does our water go? A wastewater travel log

    Students trace water through the community, and understand how filtration, gravity and microbes clean wastewater.  

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