Stream Hydrology and Morphology
University of Wisconsin OshkoshAuthor Profile
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Students create and interpret hydrographs, discharge data, and stream cross-sectional and longitudinal profiles.
The activity is used in an undergraduate introductory physical geography course that includes a 2-hour laboratory session that meets once per week. The focus of the course is landforms and soils. The course is predominantly composed of non-majors.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
None, but it helps if students have previously created and interpreted graphs.
How the activity is situated in the course
This is a stand-alone exercise that reinforces concepts introduced in lecture.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- Graph discharge data and interpret a stream hydrograph
- Plot regression line
- Calculate recurrence interval
- Plot and interpret stream survey data
- Calculate stream cross-sectional area, discharge, and gradient
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
This is a four-part exercise. First, students use discharge and precipitation data to create and interpret hydrographs. In part 2, students are provide with 25 years of mean annual discharge for a river and they calculate and plot recurrence interval to estimate discharge for given recurrence intervals and estimate the recurrence interval for given discharges. Students then create a cross-sectional profile and conduct a series of calculations. In the final part, students create and interpret a longitudinal profile.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Students complete the exercise during a 2-hour laboratory session. Students are expected to work in pairs. Upon completion of the laboratory exercise, students must complete an online quiz that consists of the same questions in the exercise as well as questions on the background information included in the lab before the next lab meeting. The online quiz is within the Desire 2 Learn (D2L) online learning platform, so answers are automatically graded and imported into the student's grade book.More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment: Stream Hydrology and Morphology exercise (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 969kB Nov22 14)
- Instructors Notes:
This is a fairly complicated lab in which students typically have difficulty completed without considerable guidance from the instructor. I get them started with each section using a document camera and projector to demonstrate how to create the graphs. They then work in groups of four to complete each section. I walk around the room and make sure each group is correctly completing each step. After a set time (typically 10 – 15 minutes per section), one student from each group demonstrates to the class using the document camera how to complete a step from that section. We repeat this cycle for each of the four sections.