Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Which Way Does a River Flow?

Downhill, of course! 

But, in every classroom there are students convinced that all rivers flow south.  Blame it on wall maps that hang vertically and our knowledge of gravity.  Blame it on the directionality of our largest river.  Blame it on ignorance.  But then do something to correct the misconception.

Each group will need:
-A sheet of freezer paper
-A pan or tub in which the paper fits
-Water-based markers: Blue, Brown, Purple, Black
-Spray Bottle filled with water

To begin, each group will create a unique landscape by crumpling up the piece of freezer paper.  The paper is then opened part-way to reveal mountains, valleys, crevices, etc. 

Place the paper in the pan, making sure all of the paper is contained in the pan.

Use the brown marker to mark the ridges and high points of the landscape.

Use the blue marker to mark the low spots, where the students think the water will collect.

Students then need to decide where they think the best place to build roads would be.  They then draw in the roads using the black marker. 

Each student should choose a site for a house and draw that in with the purple marker.  They may also wish to draw in other municipal buildings. 

Finally, add a compass rose to the upper right hand corner.

Now you're ready for it to rain....
Using the spray bottle, mist water all over the landscape and watch what happens to the water - where it flows, where it collects, etc. 

How did the roads fare?  How about the houses? 

Did all the water flow in the same direction?  Which way did it go?

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