Using Models, Local Data and Hands-on Science to Develop Sophisticated Student Understanding of how and why Watersheds Flood

Wednesday 12:05 PT / 1:05 MT / 2:05 CT / 3:05 ET Online
Oral Session Part of Oral Session II


Alan Berkowitz, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Bess Caplan, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Chelsea McClure, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Comp Hydro is an NSF-funded education research and curriculum development project exploring the integration of models and data into teaching about hydrologic phenomena of local concern. It is based on the idea that there can be a synergy between computational thinking, data sense-making and science concept learning, especially when applied to engaging issues such as groundwater contamination or stream flooding. In Comp Hydro, we: 1) developed and refined 2-3 week instructional units that integrate direct exploration in the field, data from local watersheds and student-led investigation with physical, mathematical and computational models; 2) engaged teachers as partners in development and dissemination; 3) studied student interest and learning; and 4) explored supports and constraints for implementation. The Baltimore region has been the site of several high profile floods in the past five years, receiving intense media attention and raising community-wide questions about what can be done to prevent floods in the future. The Comp Hydro curriculum in Baltimore addresses the question, Why do our local watersheds flood so frequently and violently? The curriculum guides students through key scientific practices including analyzing, interpreting and representing data on precipitation and stream flow; developing and using physical, mathematical and computer models; and constructing scientific explanations and predictions about flooding in local watersheds. We developed three NetLogo computer models for the curriculum to help students simulate and visualize water flow pathways and resultant discharge both in planar and cross-section views. To accommodate teachers with limited access to computers, we developed floor and table-top versions of these models that still allow for experimentation and help visualize watersheds and hydrographs. This session will highlight the successes and challenges of developing and implementing the Comp Hydro Baltimore curriculum. Join us to learn about this new, innovative, and engaging curriculum.

Presentation Media

Berkowitz et al. Slides for Models for Watershed Flooding (Acrobat (PDF) 2.4MB Jul14 20)

This session has already taken place.