InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Interactions between Water, Earth’s Surface, and Human Activity
InTeGrate's Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
showLearn More
This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »
show Download
The instructor material for this module are available for offline viewing below. Downloadable versions of the student materials are available from this location on the student materials pages. Learn more about using the different versions of InTeGrate materials »

Download a PDF of all web pages for the instructor's materials

Download a zip file that includes all the web pages and downloadable files from the instructor's materials

This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Jan 22, 2015

Summary

This two-week (~10-hour) module focuses on water and its importance to humans, both as a limited resource and in shaping Earth's surface. Water's flow through the hydrologic cycle is driven by Earth's external energy source – the Sun. Running water also moves and deposits sediment that ultimately becomes part of the rock cycle, whose energy source also includes Earth's internal heat energy. Students see that river systems change shape over time, are influenced by climate and by human activity, and affect human activity, for example through flooding. Students develop their understanding while working in small groups, through interaction with simplified physical models of complicated systems, with Google Earth images of stream profiles in different climates, and with real river flooding data sets. Activities within this module are aimed at content courses for pre-service teachers, but they also could be adapted to other undergraduate introductory geoscience or environmental science courses.

Strengths of the Module

Students who learn with this module will:
  • Construct their own understanding of the behavior of rivers through the use of stream tables and real streamflow data
  • Engage in a data-rich activity that is well-aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
  • Analyze streamflow and precipitation data and apply their knowledge to inform their local community about flooding hazards
In working with data, students will:
  • Use Google Earth to measure distances and elevations and calculate stream gradients
  • Calculate flood recurrence intervals
  • Look for trends relating precipitation and streamflow data

Supported Next Generation Science Standards:

Performance expectations:

  • 5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth's resources and environment.
  • MS-ESS2-5 Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
Science and Engineering Practices: Analyzing and interpreting data; Using mathematics and computational thinking
Disciplinary Core Idea: ESS2.C. The role of water in Earth's surface processes
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and effect; Energy and matter
Connections to Nature of Science: Scientific knowledge assumes an order and consistency in natural systems


Supported Earth Science Literacy Principles:

  • Big idea 1: Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet.
  • Big idea 5: Earth is the water planet.
  • Big idea 8: Natural hazards pose risks to humans.

Supported Essential Principles of Climate Science:

  • Essential principle 7: Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.

Addressed community developed, nationally-recognized Atmospheric Science Literacy Principles:

  • Essential principle 3: Atmospheric circulations transport matter and energy.

Addressed grand challenges in earth and environmental science:

  • Mitigate risk and build resilience from natural and human-made hazards (AGI)
  • Recognizing the signal within the natural variability, and communicating uncertainty and relative risk [for flooding] (GSA)

A great fit for courses in:

  • Introductory geoscience
  • Earth science for pre-service teachers*
  • Environmental science
  • Water resources

This module is designed for introductory geoscience courses that are designed around active learning and group work. The constructivist learning style used in this module is particularly suited to courses for elementary education majors, but is accessible to any introductory geoscience student. While it can stand alone as a unit, it would work best in a course where it fits with other, similarly structured units. No prior knowledge is needed, though suggestions are offered for teaching this module if students already have background knowledge in plate tectonics.



Instructor Stories: How this module was adapted
for use at several institutions »



      Next Page »

Already used some of these materials in a course?
Let us know and join the discussion »

Considering using these materials with your students?
Get pointers and learn about how it's working for your peers in their classrooms »

This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »