Using a Streamtable to Help Students Learn About Water Flow and Erosion
Prepared by:
Charlie Johnson
8 Second St. Hallowell, ME 04347

Water as a Resource

Understanding Ground Water


Brief Overview:
The streamtable available at the Area Resource Center (Gilman St. School Waterville), is a simple but effective tool for teaching students how water flows differently through different materials and at different angles.  These lessons will guide teachers in using the streamtable and related materials to discuss water as a resource, water treatment and conservation, the concept of groundwater, and erosion factors.   These activities can build concepts and provide discussion links to a variety of geological, ecological, and environmental curricula.
Grade Level: 4-8 (but flexible)
Time required: There are over a dozen lessons in this unit.  Most of the lessons can be presented in less than an hour.  There is plenty of flexibility to extend or simplify as needed.
Student Groupings: The lessons include whole class demonstrations and discussions, and cooperative group activities. A couple activities are take home.
Learning Results Performance Indicators Addressed:
 B: 2,3,5
 F: 2,4,7
 J: 1, 2, 3
 L: 1, 2, 3, 4
 M: 1,4, 7

Materials: Matereials lists are included with individual lessons.

WWW links:
The U.S. Geological Survey's Water Science For Schools Website:
Maine Department of Environmental Protection (go under bureau of land & water Quality for     teacher's page and more links
DEP employee, MaryAnn Mcgarry

On a Personal Note:
 The process of putting these activities together was very rewarding.  The Colby College Area Resource Center (ARC) is a resource that teachers should be made aware of.
 Science, particularly hands-on science, can be intimidating to teach.  I was intimidated at first as I endeavored to understand this piece of equipment and its use in the classroom, then develop a unit/lessons around it.
 Getting a late start in June, I was unable to access the actual table.
The option I had was to improvise one.  I took an old dresser drawer, (any type of medium size rectangular box would do), and cut a drain hole in the end.  I then called up Blue Rock Construction near my school in Sidney, and they were happy to give me a bucket of gravel, and a bucket of sand.
 I had to overcome a slight inertia lag to get the experiments set up at home, but when I did, it was very fun. I felt that students would be engaged and enlightened by the demonstrations.
 I'm grateful for the opportunity to delve into an new area of science instruction.  I think each new piece of ground we break (no pun intended) as teachers helps as to grow, and I would encourage teachers to try these demonstrations. They're fun, not that hard to set up, provide many possible curricular connections, and could be adapted to any grade level.

Sequence Of streamtable and related lessons:
Part 1-Water as a Resource
Before using the streamtable, it will probably be helpful to give students background knowledge on water.
The first 4 lessons will focus students on understanding water as a finite resource.
Lesson 1: Water Distribution Demonstration
Teachers may wish to distribute copies of "Instream Use" & "Offstream Use" sheets to discuss before lesson, as well as present vocabulary. There are excellent graphs and charts with this lesson
Learning Results: B2,  J1&3,  M7
Lesson 2: Be a Water Treatment Officer
Learning Results: J2, M1
Lesson 3:  Auditing your water use
(Also comes with useful graphs, vocab. sheets and investigation sheets on community and septic water systems.)
Learning Results: J2,  L2,  M4,6, &7
Lesson 4:  Bucket Brigade
Learning Results: L3&6, M 4&7
This looks like a fun culminating acitivity with pre and post questions to assess student learning.

Part 2: Understanding Groundwater
Lesson 1: "What is groundwater" Read pages 1-6, encourage students to ask parents questions on page 6.  Classes may wish to contact a nearby water district for more information.
Lesson 2: Recharge-Discharge
Also provides good background info., vocab., & graphs
Learning Results: L4, M7

Part 3: Erosion
Lesson 1: Going With the Flow
Learning Results: F2, F4, J1, J2, J3, L1, B5
Lesson 2: Waving Sand Goodbye
Learning Results: B3, B5, J2
Lesson 3: Stop that Sediment
Learning Results: F2, F4
Part 4: Additional Lessons-
 _ Sum of the Parts
 _ Branching Out
 _ Get the Groundwater Picture
 _ Stream Sense
 _ Seeping Septic Tanks
 _ Riprap roads

Watershed Reception
Metaphysical Landscape, which I remember and was delighted with at the slide show, is a serious contradiction to gravity. It looks like a grand scale experiment in magnetism or static electricity. Like red Cheezits, the disguised ceramic pieces leap and dance backward from the eye through many planes.
 This is a bright, illuminating work. It's breathtaking to me, causing me to feel visually freed, yet yearning for more of the picture. The sense of depth is wonderful. The oak frame is warm and crisp in its excellence. This is a strong work, displaying originality in design and conception, clean production, and tasteful presentation. Well done!
 This is a very fresh and moving show as a whole. Stark and modern, it's somehow earthy at the same time. It affirms my belief that art has no gender, and is a catalyst for shattering barriers.
 The scope and volume of Spiraling is phenomenal. What an ambitious work! It's like infinite pasta, winding through space.
 Alignments looks lighthearted and modelesque. It makes me think of Monopoly. It also brings to my mind memories of pieces of uniform construction materials cut off at particular angles and slightly varying sizes. Also, it looks like a play area for rodents. I love the dimensionality of the work, and the shadows it produces.
 The oils are expressive and fluent, dynamic as high-velocity still-lifes and energetically composed chromatically. Perhaps it's a bit of a generalization, but at this diverse show, the oils impacted me as a group.
 The untitled sketches of runes challenged me. At first viewing I barely validated them as art. I've grown to love them. Actually, I find them reminiscent of the Shattenberg show. At first I was annoyed at the illegibility. The explanation from the FIA 277 meeting deepened my understanding and appreciation. (Which I suppose is frequently the case.)
 The Canopic jar/bone displays were wonderful. The black plywood display boards created mini-exhibitions.
 The Hopes and Fears panels are alive with molecular electricity. The colors and patterns drip and ooze. The shard matrices present an exquisitely jumbled juxtaposition of random patterns. Hopes and Fears spoke on the minute as well as the conglomerate level. The works moved me in a scientific and an artistic way.
 On opening night, it was interesting to see the artist (I think?) and a couple of other people arranging the clay and straw for Transversing the Between. This seemed to be an illustration of artistic collaboration. It graphically displayed the communal nature of Watershed. There was also an uninhibited openness to it, whereby the spectators peek into the heart and soul of the presentation of a work. The arranging was indicative of the randomness of art-it's as though control is one of the smallest variables in the equation. The physical part of our being passes through this world presenting temporary receptors-eyes, ears, nose, and skin; and temporary processing units-brains; and tactile manipulators-fingers; which interplay with the many forces of this world, seen and unseen.
 It's difficult for me to balance and process the relationship between art and spirituality. I know nothing, but I feel a sense of urgency about much. There is incredible symbolism here in the gallery. The world is full of searching souls. I'm intrigued with the concept of transformation, and have very strong beliefs regarding spiritual transformation. I believe there is a spiritual battle raging.

This curiculum project was funded by the Colby Partnership for Science Education, the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute, and the Bell AtlanticFoundation.