Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Water: Middle School

Activities: "Whatzzzup-Stream?"

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

For Grades 6 - 8

Activities: "Whatzzzup-Stream?" (Full Article)(PDF) (2 pp, 459K)

Activities: "Whatzzzup-Stream?" (Activity Sheets)(PDF) (18 pp, 1.4MB)


Exercise I. Exploring Where You Live in Your Watershed

Exercise II. Stream Discharge

Exercise III. Making a Model Watershed

Exercise IV. Map Interpretation of Streams in the Landscape

Exercise V. Stream Order and the Physical Structure of Streams

Exercise VI. The Riparian Zone and Headwaters Streams


In this set of exercises, students will study rivers and waterways around them by using the Internet, maps, and their knowledge of local landscapes. The students will use an EPA Web site to investigate what is upstream and downstream of them. They will also look at graphs of flow in familiar river locations on a live U.S. Geological Survey Web site. Using small rocks and a washbasin, students will build a model that leads to extending their understanding of streams in different geographic locations. A topographic map exercise will expose students to topographic maps and allow them to look for the origins of streams. Finally, a reading exercise will illustrate the issue of the importance of lower-order streams to downstream areas, and students will be asked to implement their ideas to protect a stream on a dairy farm.

Time Required:

Individual exercises are designed to be approximately 45 minutes to an hour long. Exercises III and IV require craft materials and maps respectively.

Curricular Standards and Skills:

  • Geography
  • Map reading
  • Contour maps
Language Arts:
  • Internet research
  • Descriptive writing
Natural Science:
  • Watershed concept
  • Using models
  • Reading charts and graphs
  • Interpreting charts and graphs
  • Water uses
  • Stream order




  • catalog units
  • drainage basin
  • first-, second-, third-, and fourth-order streams
  • hydrologist
  • major river basin
  • network
  • watershed

Web sites:

EPA's Surf Your Watershed Web site

National Geographic's Fresh Water page Exit EPA Disclaimer

Exploring the Environment's Water Quality page Exit EPA Disclaimer

Minnesota Shoreland Management Web page Exit EPA Disclaimer



Middle Schools  |  Whatzzzup_Stream?  |  Exercises: I  |  II  |  III  |  IV  |  V  |  VI  |  Top

Jump to main content.