Shower Curtain Watershed

Contributor
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Model , Lesson/Lesson Plan
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

What is a watershed? How do our actions affect the health of a watershed? Students explore these questions by analyzing pictures and identifying watershed features. Students then make a watershed model using a plastic shower curtain, a spray bottle of water and themselves or classroom objects The objectives of the lesson are to: • Identify nonliving and living features found in a watershed. • Understand how human activities can affect watersheds.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 5
  • Upper Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

5-ESS2-1 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.

Clarification Statement: Examples could include the influence of the ocean on ecosystems, landform shape, and climate; the influence of the atmosphere on landforms and ecosystems through weather and climate; and the influence of mountain ranges on winds and clouds in the atmosphere. The geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are each a system.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to the interactions of two systems at a time.

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This resource is written in such a way that students use a model of a watershed to understand the interactive components of the Earth systems. Therefore, the performance expectations can only be explicitly addressed as students modify the model or create their own as they develop a deeper understanding of the watershed. Student discussion of the watershed features in Step 2 and while describing the pictures distributed to students in Step 3 of Lesson 1 would be great opportunities to more explicitly make these system connections as well. Students could then be expected to make connections between features they added to their watershed model and the earth systems they are part of.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
While the instructions call for students to physically participate in the development of the model, it is recommended that students simply create features using materials from school or home that can represent such objects as mountains, dams, soil, etc. By substituting inanimate objects for students there is less chance of major messes / spills with the watershed model and all students can participate in the observation and discussion. More students may participate in the model development if multiple, smaller models were formed at different workspaces that could then be explored for each one’s individual merit and intriguing features present.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Step 7 and 8 of Lesson 2 offers an optimal opportunity to establish connections between the model watershed and the actual watershed students are a part of. Problems associated with the live watershed should be modeled in the watershed.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Engineering solutions to real world problems with watersheds (such as damming, reservoirs for drinking water and so forth) may then be explored by the class and the possibility within a possibly full blown series of lessons on environmental engineering as a next step.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
During Step 6 of Lesson 2 students should include the earth system associated with each labeled feature they include on their model. When discussing the features in greater detail the spheres represented should be articulated each time to emphasize the system associated as well to emphasize the interconnectedness at the crux of the DCI. It is recommended teachers extend the lesson by asking students to create diagrams of their model watershed, explicitly labeling each sphere along the way. Step 7 and 8 of Lesson 2 offers an optimal opportunity to establish connections between the model watershed and the actual watershed students are a part of. Problems associated with the live watershed should be modeled in the watershed. Engineering solutions to real world problems may then be explored by the class and the possibility within a possibly full blown series of lessons on environmental engineering as a next step.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
By explicitly making connections between the pictures distributed in Step 3 of Lesson 1 and their spheres in the earth system one can develop explicit connections regarding how the earth system is made of spheres (parts.) Once connections have been established between these features and the spheres they are a part of it can be expected that kids will be able to make the appropriate connections to the features they add to their watershed model and the earth systems they are a part of.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Elements of the disciplinary core ideas are directly addressed in reference to different types of features present from each earth system within the real and model watersheds. Students are expected to work together to construct the model, predict and observe how the watershed is influenced by the landscape, and explore the limitations of the model and how they can improve the model through various adjustments or accessories to strengthen it.

  • Instructional Supports: Lesson plan instructions provides ample background knowledge, explicitly walks through the demonstrations for teachers and provide leading questions meant to facilitate thinking about watersheds, models and real world connections, and human (biosphere) influence on the watershed both positive and negative. Additional information (though limited) and potential extension activities are provided for curriculum directed toward water treatment and using topographic models to better understand watershed boundaries.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Though the lesson plan calls for moments of reflection on the model watershed features and processes, there is little in the form of explicit direction to the teacher regarding the uncovering or correction of misconceptions and relies primarily on teacher’s capacity to identify teachable moments within the models and if/when teachers should move off script to dive deeper into watersheds.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Technological interactivity could be improved if students are led to use and explore the web resources suggested at the end of the document to develop better understanding or even a model of their own watershed.