GETSI Teaching Materials >Eyes on the Hydrosphere: Tracking Water Resources > Overview
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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Instructor Materials: Overview of the Water Hazards and Resources module

Module Goals

Students will:

  1. Analyze the major reservoirs of the hydrosphere and the traditional and geodetic means of measuring their relative contributions to a water budget.
  2. Interpret real geodetic and traditional data sets from watersheds with different hydroclimatic regimes and assess short- and long-term trends in water availability for these watersheds.
  3. Use real data to evaluate the societal effects of changing water supply and demand related to both natural and anthropogenic forcings.

Summative Assessment

The Summative Assessment is a selection of questions that could be used during an in-class or take-home exam. Questions are aimed at a range of cognitive levels and designated as level-1 (lower on Bloom's taxonomy) to level-3 (high on Bloom's taxonomy) Learn more about assessing student learning in this module.

Outline

Unit 1Exploring the Reservoirs and Pathways and Methods to Measure the Hydrologic Cycle

In Unit 1, students learn about the reservoirs and transport pathways that make up the hydrosphere, along with an overview of traditional and geodetic methods for measuring water volumes and fluxes. This unit provides an alternative way for students to learn the major components of Earth's water cycle, which includes actively thinking about how we measure the water system. Unit 1 takes ~1.5-2 hours to work well but works well spread over two class periods.

Activity 1.1 - Identifying reservoirs and transport pathways in the water cycle

Activity 1.2 - Jigsaw activity in which students become "experts" in traditional or geodetic methods for measuring water and then work in groups to analyze data and determine which part of the part of the hydrosphere each method measures best.

Unit 2Monitoring Surface and Groundwater Supply in Central and Western US

In Unit 2, students learn how the techniques from Unit 1 that are used for water budgeting can be applied to both groundwater (High Plains Aquifer) and surface water (Western Mountain Watershed) systems. In this exercise, they develop their ability to interpret time-series plots that show the impact of drought years and wet years on underground water storage in the High Plains Aquifer and on snowpack and surface runoff in the Western Mountain Watershed.

Activity 2.1 - High Plains Aquifer groundwater

Activity 2.2 - Western Mountain Watershed surface water

Unit 3What's in YOUR watershed?

In Unit 3, students explore how water managers track water through their local watershed/aquifer system. This unit allows them to apply what they learned in Units 1 and 2 to a region/human system with which they are familiar.

Activity 3.1 - Stakeholders in a water budget -- a short exercise in which students consider who has power and interest related to water resources

Activity 3.2 - What's in YOUR watershed? -- more open inquiry activity in which the students investigate water data from their own region of interest to better understand the local water system and societal considerations.

Making the Module Work

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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 »