Science

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There are many different ways to precisely measure the quality of water in a river. Environmental scientists and volunteers all over the state of Michigan are continuously collecting measurements of the quality of water in rivers, streams, and lakes. Students will look at two of these measures to see how they change with location around the state and along a river.

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As a society, we use land in many different ways. The way we use land has a tremendous impact on how water flows over and through land as it makes it way to streams, rivers, and the Great Lakes. When rainwater falls on land, it gradually makes its way downhill. In developed areas, including both farms and urban areas, there is much less vegetation to slow the water down.

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Rivers are incredibly important to our society and our environment, but we haven’t always treated our rivers as well as we should. By using pictures taken from satellites orbiting the earth, we can examine rivers all over Michigan and try to identify those rivers that appear to have higher water quality and those that appear to have lower quality.

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As rain falls all over Michigan, the water gathers in small local watersheds, which feed into larger regional watersheds, which ultimately feed into the Great Lakes. Water that falls on the land in Michigan eventually flows into one of the Great Lakes because the elevation of the Great Lakes is generally lower than the elevation of the land in Michigan.

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This lesson focuses on the use of elevation maps with a focus on Michigan’s Muskegon River Watershed. Students are introduced to an elevation profile tool and expected to produce a profile of two other Michigan rivers and examine their watersheds.

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In this project, students identify areas at highest risk of flooding and landslides during a major rain event. They first explore the region's dramatic geography and identify how the most flood-prone areas correspond with large population centers. Then, they determine where landslides are most likely to occur and summarize the population in these at-risk areas.

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In this project, students will learn how to find the area that drains to a storm drain and the route that pollutants will take if they are dumped or washed into the drain. They will find the upstream drainage area, called a watershed, for a storm drain near Blackman Elementary School in Tennessee. Then they find the downstream flow path to where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

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In this lesson, students take on the role of a county official tasked with spreading awareness of the disaster. Using imagery of the affected area, they create a web mapping application that allows users to easily compare the area before and after the disaster. Users should also to be able to measure the extent of the impact.

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As GIS technicians, students examine dams along the Mersey River Watershed to determine whether there are any locations suitable for the construction of a fishway. Once they identify the best potential location, they will calculate the dam's upstream watershed to help determine how much additional habitat could be made accessible by constructing the fishway.

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