Florida River Project: Plotting discharge data

Kim Hannula
Fort Lewis College
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This is part of a group of exercises used to prepare students for a group research project on a local river. In this exercise, students plot discharge data from a previous year.

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Introductory Earth Systems Science course with lab. (see the course profile)

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

None - done near the beginning of the semester.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is the second exercise in a sequence of lab exercises and homework assignments that culminates in a group research project, measuring discharge and collecting and analyzing water samples on a local river. Before this assignment, students have looked at topographic maps of the area and have seen the location of the two stream gage sites and the reservoir that lies between them.
See an overview of this project and find descriptions for each of the activities on the Florida River overview page.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Annual variations in streamflow, affect of dams on water flow.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Graphing and analyzing quantitative data. Preparation for analysis of student-collected data.

Other skills goals for this activity

Graphing data by hand.

Description of the activity/assignment

This is a homework assignment used as preparation for a group research project. Students graph annual discharge data from a local river by hand, and compare the discharge patterns from the stream above a reservoir with those below the dam. This exercise gives students practice graphing a small amount of data by hand, and gets them thinking about ways graphs can be used to help interpret data.

Determining whether students have met the goals

1) Was the data plotted correctly?

2) Were the answers to the discussion questions reasonable? (Reasonable is defined broadly in this case, because the students have not looked at rainfall or snowmelt patterns yet, and have not discussed the behavior of streams.)

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