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Speed of a Forest Stream

Keywords: slope, velocity, aeration, erosion, sedimentation; Lesson Plan Grade Level: eighth grade; Setting: Reeds Gap State Park (Honey Creek)

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will collect data about stream speed.
  • Students will use formulas to calculate stream speed.
  • Students will develop hypotheses based on data.
  • Students will formulate opinion on stream speed and its effects on landscape.

Materials Needed

  • stopwatch
  • strings (about 10 feet)
  • tape measure
  • cork stoppers
  • data sheets
  • hip boots

State Standards Addressed: Watersheds and Wetlands (4.1)

Teaching Model: Traditional

Subjects Covered: ecology, physics, mathematics, geography

Topics: stream ecology, stream geology, speed, velocity, applied mathematics

Preparation

  1. Students will have practiced calculating speed prior to this activity.
  2. Students will have read about and studied about stream ecology.
  3. Teacher will prepare all materials prior to activity.
  4. Teacher will visit park and select suitable locations for students to work.
  5. Activity will be reviewed in class prior to field trip.

Activity

  1. Arrive at Reeds Gap State Park
  2. Review activity with class
  3. Escort groups of students to different stream stations.
  4. Each group will follow activity directions that include:
  • Measure distance to be tested in stream area.
  • Use string to denote this distance
  • Place cork at start area
  • Use stopwatch to measure time for cork to travel the designated distance
  • To record data and calculate speed.
  • Repeat three times and calculate an average speed.
  1. Groups will reconvene at the green pavilion.
  2. Discussion about findings will occur.

Assessment

Student groups will find the speed of water at station where rain gutters have been set up at varying slopes. At 10-minute intervals the groups will rotate and calculate water speed at each station.

Conclusion

Revisit the stream stations and discuss the physical factors affecting stream speed and how this in turn affects the ecology of the stream.

Author

Alex Fox, Mifflin County School District