Teach the Earth > Service Learning > Example Service Learning Projects > The 1997 floods of Bozeman Creek, Montana

The 1997 floods of Bozeman Creek, Montana

William Locke
Montana State University, Bozeman
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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: Feb 19, 2010


This project involved student provocation of community response along a local creek in response to accumulation of twice-normal winter snowpack in the winter of 1996-7.

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The course is an entry-level non-major Environmental Geology class carrying Diversity and Science Core credit. It is commonly taken by pre-teachers and a mix of others. Enrollment was 40.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

No specific skills were required at the very beginning, but at various times issues relating to flood hazard and mitigation were required.

How the activity is situated in the course

The activity took place throughout the spring semester and, in fact, culminated with high water after the end of the semester!


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The activity included understanding of flood hazard, of the local hazard, and of the timely hazard. It also involved interaction with the public in outreach.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Estimation of the likelihood of a flood involved multiple regression analysis of snowpack and river discharge data.

Other skills goals for this activity

The activity included group activities involving research, analysis, writing, and outreach. Because students volunteered for specific tasks, they were not forced into tasks that intimidated them (but neither were they forced to learn new skills!).

Description of the activity/assignment

The winter of 1996-7 generated an exceptional snowpack - twice the longterm normals for the region. Bozeman Creek through town had not experienced significant flooding (except for high-risk localities) for decades. This seemed like a good opportunity to involve students with a real and identifiable issue of hazard. So, I identified a series of activities through the spring semester to assess the hazard and to mitigate it through community activities. Students signed up for the different activities and, with my active oversight, completed both the science (research, data collection, and analysis) and the outreach before the end of the semester. The actual high water occurred just after graduation. The project was assessed in terms of public perception (before we knew the outcome) and students' (and my) opinion of their, their teammates', and their teams' work.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The product of each team was assessed in draft and final form and the contribution of individuals to the teams was assessed through a student instrument (see resources below). In addition, the attitude of the public was assessed during the project. There was no final assessment of effectiveness.

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Supporting references/URLs

NA (there was a website but it has long-since decayed.)

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