GETSI Teaching Materials >Eyes on the Hydrosphere: Tracking Water Resources
GETSI's Earth-focused Modules for Undergraduate Classroom and Field Courses
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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. 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.
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Eyes on the Hydrosphere: Tracking Water Resources


Summary

This module introduces students to the basics of the hydrologic cycle but in a way that engages them with both societal challenges related to water and methods for measuring the water system. The data used in the module includes both traditional (ex. stream gages) and geodetic methods (ex. gravity satellites). Students also use real data to identify trends and extremes in precipitation and water storage. It is intended to require ~2-3 weeks of class to use in its entirety. It includes individual and group work, reading, reflection, and working with data on the computer. In the final exercise, students are able to investigate water resources a region of interest to them.

Strengths of the Module

  • This module presents an impactful yet accessible introduction to how the water cycle works, how humans rely on water resources, and how we monitor those resources. The module includes a mixed-methods approach. In- and out-of-class assignments are used to guide students through a series of hands-on exercises, including: construction of a water cycle diagram, a jigsaw exercise where student 'experts' teach each other about measurement techniques, and a computer-based exercise wherein students analyze real hydrologic data to detect short- and long-term hydrologic variability in multiple climate zones.
  • Materials are provided to students in such a way that they can focus on the Earth Science concepts while building their data analysis and interpretation skills.
  • This module is specifically constructed to be accessible to introductory-level students with minimal prior training in Earth Science.
  • The final exercise in the module gives students an opportunity to investigate the water resources in an area of interest to them. They research typical water challenges for that area and look at one or more water-related data sets.
  • Overall students are introduced to a broad range of both traditional and newer geodetic methods. These include stream gauges, groundwater wells, snow pillows, vertical GPS changes, reflection GPS for snow depth, and GRACE satellite (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment).

Great fit for Introductory-level classes in

  • Geology
  • Hydrology
  • Environmental Science
  • Earth Science
  • Weather / Climate



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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. 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 »