Western State College of Colorado
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Apr 30, 2008
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Measurement and analysis of snowpack density and SWE. Students collect field data on the snowpack, analyse and interpret the data, and present their results.
Undergraduate course in geomorphology and a water science course in environmental studies.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Determination of earth material properties - in this case snow (weighing, measuring, etc), observational skills (grain sizes, hardness), very basic math and dimensional anaysis
How the activity is situated in the course
as a stand alone exercise or lab activity
Content/concepts goals for this activity
collecting field data through measurement and observation
and determining the water equivalent of the snowpack from that data
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
relating their collected data on the snowpack to an eventual spring-time water source of subsurface and overland flow
spatial extrapolation of their point data to the entire drainage basin
estimates of uncertainty in their data collection
Other skills goals for this activity
presentation of their snow stratigraphy using a computer graphing/drawing program
working in a group
Description of the activity/assignment
Students collect data on the winter snowpack and using their observations they determine the water equivalent of the pack. Students need to prepare and assemble equipment for winter fieldwork, collect meaningful field data, interpret their data, assess the uncertainty of their measurements, and evaluate the usefulness of extrapolating their point data to the entire watershed.
Designed for a geomorphology course
Uses geomorphology to solve problems in other fields
Determining whether students have met the goals
Their completed lab assignments and my observations in the field.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Download teaching materials and tips
Full disclosure: this lab is based on a few different exercises I found on-line three years ago.