The Movement of Water in a Watershed

Authored by Lute, Henry, Gwen, Addie, Lydia, Ella, Leah, Taylor, James, Mya

In class we have been learning about watersheds and their features and processes.   We were hoping to learn what a watershed was and what nature does almost every single day!  We learned a watershed is a place in the land where all the water flows to one big river, lake or pond.  We have also been learning about point source pollution and non-point source of pollution and how pollution can spread to other features of our watershed.


We got cans, crumpled them up, taped them together, and put tin foil over it. We then squirted water all over it.  When we squirted the water which we colored with blue food dye, the indents filled up, creating a water body.  The water in the lake came from the mountain when it rained.  Sometimes, water trickled downhill, creating a stream or river.  One model showed three lakes, seven major ponds, three wetlands and many smaller water features throughout, one waterfall and a river.  In another model, as soon as it rained, the water would run down a small ledge and into our lake.  It was not really a stream or river though.  The water only ran down the ledge when it rained, whereas other rivers and streams on our watershed held water even when it wasn’t raining. If there were any holes in the tin foil the water that ran over that spot went under the tinfoil and cans and became groundwater.  Groundwater is surface water that has soaked into the ground.  When we stopped quirting the blue water, the run-off stopped.


We then put three pieces of fabric onto three random spots.  The fabric symbolized wetlands.  Our point source of pollution was a drop of red food dye on the cloth that represented the wetland.    We made it rain again.  The dye would be a point source of pollution because you could point to it.  The point source of pollution spread almost all the way across one group’s watershed, and ended up in a small lake.  In another group, the red dye flowed into small streams and rivers and then collected in lakes and ponds.  Most of the pollution stayed there, but some overflowed and became groundwater.  A different group explained the pollution affected the watershed because it got spread out when it rained.  The point source of pollution ended up in their lake and in their mini-pond.  In another model the red food dye ran into streams and into lakes and ponds and into the ground.


We added dirt after that.  The dirt was a non-point source of pollution. Then we made it rain again.  The dirt mostly flowed through rivers and into the lakes we had.  A tiny bit of dirt was left over that didn’t flow away with the rivers.  One group placed the soil around the stream, finding out the dirt followed the stream and ran into the groundwater.  The non-point pollution affected our watershed and when you looked at the lakes and ponds you couldn’t say where the pollution was coming from.

Here is more of what we had to say after using our models:

This model helped me learn the connections between surface water and groundwater because whatever kind of water is on the surface eventually goes to the ground.

This taught me there is a big connection between surface water and groundwater.  This connection is that what goes on at the surface will end up in the ground at some point.

This model taught me about the connections between surface waters and groundwater because all the water on the top of the watershed will soon be down in the ground.

This model taught me about the connections of surface water and groundwater.  I learned that the water on the surface will eventually end up in the groundwater.  A negative fact about this though, is that if pollution is in the surface water, and it eventually goes into the ground, that pollution will travel and can hurt things that are under the ground.  This also happened to our model.  Some of the pollution went into our groundwater, but also went into our lakes and small ponds or puddles.

This project really helped me understand how pollution travels, and helped me learn about watersheds.

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