Surf Your Watershed: An Investigation of Discharge and Water Quality Impairments using EPA's watershed webpages
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Apr 29, 2013
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
At the end of this activity,
- students should know how to use the EPA Surf Your Watershed website to retrieve current data on discharge and water quality for a particular waterway.
- students should also understand the meaning of the following terms/concepts:
water quality impairments
types of impairments
- students should successfully research a water quality impairment and hypothesize about its source based on mini-research.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
Student Handout for Surf Your Watershed Lab (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 31kB May4 12)
Students should begin this activity with a basic understanding of what a watershed is and how/why surface water and/or groundwater becomes polluted. The instructor should review the activity with students and show them how to access and begin using the EPA Surf Your Watershed website. It takes students 45-75 minutes to complete the activity.
The activity itself requires each student to have access to the Internet.
Teaching Notes and Tips
Some students have difficulty getting started on the activity because they are not comfortable following a set of directions and/or interpreting a watershed map that covers where they live. I choose to send students out of class to work on the activity at a location of their choice, but am on hand to answer questions. I find that if I am not nearby they often solve problems on their own.
Student responses related to explaining a specific impairment and hypothesizing its source are sometimes incomplete. Remind students to name, describe, and explain the general origin of the impairment they have chosen to investigate. Urge students to add a map of the area and to identify the contamination source in their hypothesis.
References and Resources
What is a watershed?
Sources of Water Quality Impairments: