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Water: Articles and Activities for Middle School Students

Exercise I. How Does Rain Become Runoff?

A Rural Example


An Urban Example


Know the language...

Read the article Streams in the City to find the meanings of the following words:

  • Infiltration
  • Evaporation
  • Interception
  • Puddling
  • Runoff

In the pictures above, label the different things that can happen to rainwater after a storm. Use the words in the box to the right.

Questions About the Rural and Urban Examples

Name the places where rainwater was intercepted.


Where could the water have ponded on the surface?


Where could the rainwater have infiltrated?


The Day After the Storm


Water does not just stay where it lands. The day after the storm, what has probably happened to the water from the following places?

  • Tree and shrub leaves:
  • Surface ponds:
  • Surface puddles:
  • A grassy field:
  • The forest floor:
The Benefits of Infiltration

Infiltration is very important to the water cycle. It recharges groundwater, providing people with source water for wells, and reduces the amount of water streams need to hold during rain events.

Infiltration and the Weather

Researchers have concluded that urbanization might contribute to longer unusually dry periods and droughts. Using what you have learned about rainwater runoff, explain how urbanization and droughts might be related.




Infiltration and Your School

Think about your school property. On a separate sheet of paper, draw a picture of your school grounds. Label permeable areas, impervious areas, and places where the water is likely to be intercepted or to pond on the surface.


Middle Schools   |  Streams in the City  |  Exercise I  |  Exercise II  |  Exercise III  |  Exercise IV  

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