Becoming Flood Resilient: Investigating Hydrology Through Hands-on Activities

Friday 1:30pm-1:50pm SERC Building - 116
Teaching Demonstration Part of Friday


Sequoyah McGee, American Geosciences Institute


In this session, AGI will model groundwater and surface water flow, which can be done as a teacher demonstration, or completed in small groups of students. Additionally, use of pervious and impervious surfaces on a stream table model would further allow the participants to explore stream flow in natural and urban environments.


The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is offering an engaging professional development workshop for Earth Science teachers, focusing on a recently developed module that is centered around flooding phenomena. The lesson involves modeling stream flow across different land covers—permeable and impermeable—to show the effects of surfaces on stormwater movement. Additionally, it explores water movement in natural and urban environments, including human impacts like pollution. During the workshop session, educators will immerse themselves in the module and gain insight into the pedagogical decisions underlying its creation and implementation. There are additionally appropriate instructional scaffolds that can be applied to the use of datasets that are available online from sources (e.g., USGS, NOAA, and others) as well as varied instructional resources—including real-world data—that can be combined with students' own experiences to generate meaningful understanding of real-world events and phenomena.


We have put together lessons about hydrology and flash flooding, developed as part of an NSF-funded research project. The originating research project targeted elementary students' data literacy skill, by exploring the intricate interplay between water systems and human activities, and it was intended to push their thinking. Different versions of the curricula have been created and implemented in fourth grade classrooms in Maryland and Virginia, and with middle school students and educators in Malaysia. Additional implementation was recently conducted with middle and high school students in Georgia. Middle school and/or high school Earth Science would be a natural audience, but this can be scaled at any level that works best for the teacher.

Why It Works

Urban areas globally face mounting challenges in flooding and pollution, necessitating inventive educational solutions. The fully executed curriculum places a strong emphasis on community relevance, encouraging students to apply socio-hydrological concepts to their local context, and consider the specific challenges faced by their communities. By engaging in hands-on activities and analyzing real-world data sets related to urban flooding, students gain a deep understanding of the interconnectedness between human activities, environmental health, and community resilience.