MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Flow Characteristics of the Crow River

Flow Characteristics of the Crow River

Dave Dziengel
Eden Valley Watkins Secondary
298 Brooks St. North
Eden Valley Mn 55329
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In this Earth Science field investigation students will study the flow characteristics of the Crow River at Finnish Memorial Park 0.5 miles west of Minnesota Highway 15 on Meeker County Road 27. Students first will make observations of the Crow River. From these observations a question will be formulated and students will, through guided inquiry, construct, conduct, and collect data on a question they wish to research. Students will keep a field journal of their observations, write a lab report describing their results, and present their results to the class.

Learning Goals

Learning Goal

Students will understand that a stream has unique characteristics because of guided inquiry.

Key Concepts

1.) Students will make observations and design an investigation to test the characteristics of a stream.
2.) Students will design equipment and use that equipment to collect data.
3.) Students will analyze efficiency/effectiveness of their investigation.

velocity, dependent variable, independent variable, stream discharge, drainage basin, turbulence, eddy, stream flow, stream roughness, braided stream

Context for Use

This field investigation is designed for a class (60-70 students) of 8th grade earth science students to better understand the characteristics of a stream. Information my students will know before going on this field experience include; observational skills, journal and data taking techniques, how to measure stream discharge, and how to construct a lab write up. Data collection will be left up to the students. Materials students can use include: rope, measuring tapes, thermometers, scissors, meter sticks, wooden matches, cotton balls, and markers. Time needed is 2-3 hours.
This field investigation will be used when we are talking about erosional processes. Having done this activity before I think that it would be very easy to use in other settings.

Subject: Geoscience:Hydrology:Surface Water
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Water, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Hydrology/Hydrogeology

Description and Teaching Materials

I plan on giving my students a pre and post test on stream flow and different things that could possibly affect stream flow to start this investigation. After we have gone over the pretest students will work in same sex groups and we will discuss how and what the formula is for stream discharge. After discussion we will travel to our field investigation site and students will spend time making 10 observations of the stream to be written down in their field journal. I will bring everyone together and have them share their favorite 3 observations with the entire class. Students will then be allowed to expand on one of their questions to test stream characteristics. A guided inquiry process will allow them to construct any data collecting equipment that they think will help them collect appropriate data and answer their question. When completed, a group discussion will take place to talk more about the stream and it's characteristics and to tie up any loose ends. The final project will have students construct a lab write up and they will present that write up to the class. At the conclusion of the activity students will be given a posttest.

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students will be given a pre and posttest. Students will be responsible for turning in their field journals and lab write up. They also will be responsible for presenting their data in a mini-presentation at the conclusion of the field experiment.


8.III.A.2 - erosion, and sediment deposition

References and Resources