InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Interactions between Water, Earth’s Surface, and Human Activity
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free 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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Summary

This two-week (~10-hour) module focuses on water and its importance to humans, both as a limited resource and in shaping Earth's surface. Water's flow through the hydrologic cycle is driven by Earth's external energy source – the Sun. Running water also moves and deposits sediment that ultimately becomes part of the rock cycle, whose energy source also includes Earth's internal heat energy. Students see that river systems change shape over time, are influenced by climate and by human activity, and affect human activity, for example through flooding. Students develop their understanding while working in small groups, through interaction with simplified physical models of complicated systems, with Google Earth images of stream profiles in different climates, and with real river flooding data sets. Activities within this module are aimed at content courses for pre-service teachers, but they also could be adapted to other undergraduate introductory geoscience or environmental science courses.

Strengths of the Module

Students who learn with this module will:
  • Construct their own understanding of the behavior of rivers through the use of stream tables and real streamflow data
  • Engage in a data-rich activity that is well-aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
  • Analyze streamflow and precipitation data and apply their knowledge to inform their local community about flooding hazards
In working with data, students will:
  • Use Google Earth to measure distances and elevations and calculate stream gradients
  • Calculate flood recurrence intervals
  • Look for trends relating precipitation and streamflow data
NGSS Logo Very Small

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. At the top of each page, you can click on the NGSS logo to see the specific connections. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more about the process of alignment and how to use InTeGrate materials to implement the NGSS.

NGSS in this Module

In this module students learn how to use data and build models to assess how running water erodes and transports rock, shapes landscapes over time, and is capable of short-term flooding hazards whose effects can be characterized and acted upon. In aligning the module with NGSS, it was observed that units provide a strong disciplinary foundation on understanding the hydrologic cycle and its components and fluxes. It is recommended that teachers who use this module emphasize on aspects of water quality and availability. Adding few case studies on water contamination and its impacts on ecosystems would strengthen the cross-cutting issues.

A great fit for courses in:

  • Introductory geoscience
  • Earth science for pre-service teachers*
  • Environmental science
  • Water resources


Instructor Stories: How this module was adapted
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. 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 »