Water: Articles and Activities for Middle School Students
Exercise I. Exploring Where You Live in Your Watershed
Looking at the Map
Under the "Locate by Geographic Unit" heading on the web site, use the space provided to enter your ZIP code and then click on "Submit." Then click on the 8-digit number for the watershed where you live.
Everyone Lives in a Watershed!
No matter where you live in the United States, or even in the world, you live in a watershed. The rainwater that falls on your backyard drains to a stream, then into a river, and eventually into the ocean. Some people live very close to the coast and water travels only a short distance before it reaches the ocean. Others live farther inland, and rainwater will have to travel hundreds of miles before it reaches the ocean. In this exercise, you will look at where you live in your watershed. Are you near the headwaters where your watershed originates, or are you farther downstream? Visit EPA's Surf Your Watershed Web site. Take some time to explore the different things this Web site can tell you. Below, list three things you can find out from this Web site.
1. What is the name of your watershed?
2. Compare the outline of the watershed to the map of your city or county. Does it follow the same boundaries? If not, why not?
Determine whether your watershed is a headwaters watershed or whether other watersheds are present upstream of your watershed. To do this, scroll down to near the bottom of the Web page. Look in the left column for "Other Watersheds Upstream." Click on the name listed below this title. (If you see more than one name, just pick one of them.)
Headwaters — What Are They?
The headwaters of a river are its source--the place where the river first starts flowing.
3. What is the name of the watershed upstream from yours?
4. What would it mean if the word "none" was listed under the "Other Watersheds Upstream" title?
5. How many watersheds are upstream from you? (You can find this answer by counting the number of times you must click on an upstream watershed before you get to a watershed that has no watersheds upstream from it.)
6. Where are the headwaters of your watershed?
Now look the other way and find out where your water goes after it flows past your house. To do this, start at the Web site for your watershed listed in question 1. Find the "Other Watersheds Downstream" title and click on the name of the watershed listed there.
7. How many watersheds are between you and the ocean? (Again, count the number of Web sites you need to visit between yours and when there are no more, to choose from.)
8. What is the name of the last watershed downstream from you?
Watersheds in Your Neighborhood
Talk about waterways in your area. What streams do you cross on bridges on your way to school? What roads do you take every day that run along a river or creek? Where are places where creeks and rivers come together? Think about places you have visited where rivers or streams come together. Write a paragraph about how a river or stream changes when it comes together with another river or stream.
Do you know of a small stream in your area? Try following it to its source. Write a paragraph about what the beginning of the stream looks like.