The schoolground catchment
The aim of this activity is to introduce students to the concept of a catchment by observing the path of rainwater within the school boundary. This is a lead up lesson to looking at the larger water catchment in the local environment.
Earth and Beyond
3.3 Students collect information that describes ways in which living things use the Earth and the sun as resources.
4.1 Students recognise and analyse some interactions (including the weather) between systems of Earth and beyond.
Life and Living
3.3 Students describe some interactions (including feeding relationships) between living things and between living parts of the environment.
Place and Space
PS 2.2 Students predict possible consequences for an ecological system when an element is affected.
Systems, Resources and Power
SRP 3.1 Students make inferences about interactions between people and natural cycles, including the water cycle.
Students could write an account of how water flows within the school ground catchment area.
Students could measure the amount of rainfall, amount of run-off, the perimeter of the school grounds, and area of parts of catchment area.
- pens, and colours
- butcher's paper
- map of the school grounds
The outdoor exploration part of this activity would be best done when the sun is not at its most intense.
The gathering of information can be done in groups.
Time: 45-60 minutes
Tell the students the aim of the activity is to look at what happens to rainwater that enters the school ground. Ask students to suggest ways of investigating what happens to rainwater within the school grounds (e.g watch rain and note where is runs). If rain is not likely to occur in the near future, ask students to suggest ways rain could be simulated e.g. using a sprinkler, or a number of balls.
Draw or present a map of the school ground. Ask students to predict where water runs to/collects within the school grounds during light and heavy rainfall.
Discuss and list what information needs to be gathered to determine what happens to rainwater within the school grounds such as high and low areas, tell-tale signs of water run-off, location of down pipes.
Organise resources and students into groups and assign jobs such as who will reporter back to the class. Set a time limit or signal for return to the whole group.
Let students gather information from the school ground.
Return to the whole group and discuss findings.
Mark on the class map:
- high and low areas
- water run-off areas (hollow, dips)
- rainwater collection areas (tank, drain)
Discuss where rainwater goes within the grounds and why differences occur. (e.g. Water pools at the bottom of the front oval because it is a sloping block. No water lies around on the back play area because it is very flat. The play area near the shed is a natural depression where rain water runs to. Water from between the buildings ends up on the oval because it flows into the pipes that drain down to the oval.)
Discuss effects of greater/less rainfall on water collection, and run-off within the school catchment and how this may affect their use and enjoyment of the school grounds.
Change a number of variables within the water catchment area (areas of bare soil, removal/addition of garden beds, alteration of the level of part of the school grounds) and ask students to predict what might occur when it rains, and how this may affect their use and enjoyment of the school grounds.
As a whole group test predictions with a sprinkler (no need to wait for rain) or balls (by following a rolling basketball you will get an idea of where water will flow).
Students may investigate and map other catchment areas, such as, home, property, farm, park, etc.
Students may want to look at erosion problems identified in the schoolground. Search for fact sheet at top right of this page: Erosion in school grounds L42
Gathering information about student learning
Sources of information could include:
- anecdotal notes on student participation and attitude to working in a group outdoors
- anecdotal notes on student’s understanding of flow of rainwater within a catchment
- anecdotal notes of any alternative conceptions or corrections of previous alternative conceptions.
Last updated 3 September 2010