Journey of a Raindrop – Session 4
Conduct this session in the classroom.
- Display a Web browser on a large monitor or using a projection device, go to the EPA's Surf Your Watershed website, and click "Search by Map." In the U.S. map, click Virginia. Then click your area of Virginia to find your local watershed.
- Direct students to rejoin their map groups. Each group will need a Virginia map, an enlarged local topographic map from the Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer that includes your school, and a highlighter.
- Instruct the students to find the school on the local topographic map and to draw an arrow showing the direction the class determined water would leave the schoolyard.
- Instruct the students to find the stream nearest the point at which water leaves the schoolyard, then highlight the path from that stream to the stream or river into which it flows. (Topographic elevation lines are labeled in the Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer in light gray, and the water will flow from the higher elevation to the lower one. An alternative method is to find the larger tributary you know your area drains into and work backwards.)
Students should continue to follow the water and highlight its path through all tributaries until it reaches the Bay.
- As a class, review the water's path, listing the directions on the board as you go. This list of bodies of water between the schoolyard and the Bay provides the school's watershed address. Make sure to include in the address details the students noticed in the schoolyard, such as parking lots, sandboxes, athletic fields, gutters, and storm drains.
- Follow the path of water from the schoolyard to the Bay, affixing a piece of string along its course on the large class wall map of Virginia. Have students help hold the string so that it follows the winding path of the streams and rivers as closely as possible. Cut the string when it reaches the Bay. Next lay the string straight on a table and measure it. Then use the map scale to convert the distance to kilometers or miles. This is the distance a raindrop travels from the schoolyard to the Chesapeake Bay.
- Finally, have each student pretend he or she is a raindrop writing directions to another raindrop on how to get from the schoolyard to the Bay. Instruct students to include the elements of the school's watershed address as well as the distance from the schoolyard to the Bay. Encourage them to include things to look for along the trip, such as ground surfaces, land formations, and state parks.