Introduction—Watershed Modeling

Summary: Students will create and explore small scale models of watersheds made from either paper or in a large group using a shower curtain. Students work to identify various living and nonliving features within their model and look at how they function within a watershed. Run-off, erosion, and sources of pollution are explored using water bottles and props.

Concepts to teach: Watershed features, watershed health, runoff & erosion, point & non-point source pollution.

Goals: Students will explore the features of a watershed and understand how various natural processes might be impacted by human activity.

H.2L.2, H.2E.4

Specific Objectives:

  1. Identify nonliving and living features found in a watershed and describe how water interacts with those features.
  2. Understand how watersheds are connected.
  3. Understand and describe how human activities can affect watersheds.
  4. Name at least two actions they can take to keep a watershed healthy

Activity Links and Resources:


  • Students create diagrams and descriptions to predict what will happen when water is added to the model. After the experiment, students compare their predictions to what actually happened when the model was used and explain why the model performed the way it did.
  • Create a Venn diagram comparing the model watershed and natural watershed.
  • Journal reflections: Describe how the model demonstrates watershed processes. Describe two actions that they can take to keep a watershed healthy.