Review: The Adopt-A-Watershed curriculum has had several years of field-testing and every unit offers good instructional ideas. The material can be used in urban, suburban or rural schools and may be adapted to fit your needs and region. The authors have incorporated a number of resources into the curriculum at every level. The fourth grade unit, Landforms and Geology, is linked to the grades 3 and 4 FOSS unit, "Earth Materials." (Note: The FOSS teacher's guide for this unit is available without the complete FOSS kit, but only if you are implementing Adopt-A-Watershed.) The seventh grade unit, Watershed Geological History, includes the excellent GEMS unit, Stories in Stone. Also included is Major John Wesley Powell's journal (with a discounted price for multiple copies of that book). All units are supported by a variety of high quality resources and references to even more.
Units for other grade levels explore a variety of topics and relate them to watershed environments. Taken together, these topics cover many important issues of science including diversity ("An Apartment in the Woods"), forces reshaping earth ("Significance of Soil") and interdependent systems ("The Streamside Community").
Other Information: Adopt-a-Watershed units are available as full kits or as Teachers' Guides and Manuals. prices range from #32.00 to $862.00. for more information write Adopt-A-Watershed, PO Box 1850, Hayfork, CA 96041, call 530-628-5334, or fax 530-628-4212.
Adopt-A-Watershed's Geologic History Unit is a great way to pique students' interest in geology. It also demonstrates to them the interrelatedness of scientific disciplines. Last year my students and I began our school year studying geology and then related that field to astronomy and ecology. The curriculum was tied to a watershed theme.
Each year, my fifty seventh graders at Eagle Valley Middle School in Colorado begin a year long, interdisciplinary watershed theme by reading journal entries from John Wesley Powell's historic voyage through the Grand Canyon. Through this program my students have been conducting longitudinal biophysical monitoring of the Eby Creek watershed.
In the fall of 1994, the North Branch Fire District offered me a tremendous opportunity. North Branch realized that the greatest hope for education would occur if we could foster a partnership between students and the community. Such a partnership would ultimately lead students to become active participants and valued members of the community.
More than half of the states in the U.S. aquire a majority of their drinking water from groundwater supplies, and even in the remaining states a large percentage of people drink water from wells, especally in rural areas. What is ground water and how much is available for drinking? How can groundwater be protected from contamination? Four activities introduce the topic to students.
It's May and the classroom hums with students' activities. The Watershed Fair is only two weeks away and fifth graders are busy preparing their display about ways to prevent erosion. This spring-time community event gives all the students in the Tahoe-Truckee School district (California) an opportunity to educate others about the scientific studies they conducted in their watershed. This community action activity is just one element of our district-adopted science curricula, called Adopt-A-Watershed.
The teaching of the water cycle has always been one of my pet peeves. Starting in first grade, children do little experiments in jars and soon thereafter draw those diagrams of clouds, condensation, rivers following to the ocean, and evaporation back to the clouds. And they do it over and over throughout elementary school. It's all a bunch of denatured words with little connection to the real world. Rarely do children step outside, investigate puddles, collect rainwater, make miniature landscapes or follow streams.
In one use of this curriculum [Adopt-A-Watershed], fifth and sixth graders at the Lewiston Elementary School took tape measures and stakes in hand to set up a gully erosion study in their adopted watershed, Walt's Creek.