Title: Rivers 215

Key Words: river, point pollution, nonpoint pollution

National Standard: 18 (Applying geography to interpret the present and plan for the future)

State Standard: 15 (Applying geography to interpret the present and plan for the future)

Teaching Level: Middle School

Introduction: Ancient and modern civilizations have used rivers as a resource. This introductory lesson allows students to create a fictitious river that will act as a springboard for discussion about the many ways rivers are used in today's world, and how those uses affect the people, wildlife, and the environment. Other lessons should follow this one to build an appreciation that a river is part of a river system within a watershed area.

Objective: Students will create and analyze a river mural to gain awareness of the extent to which rivers are used and to gain awareness of river issues.

Materials: Enough 3x5 cards for each student.
Handout: Task Card Topics (for teacher to use to put a task on each 3x5 card).
Mural size paper and plain white 8x11 paper.
Markers, crayons, or colored pencils, scissors, and glue.
Several issues of National Geographic magazines with articles about rivers for reference.
Local news articles about rivers to encourage interest in local river issues.
Definition of point source pollution - pollution that can be traced to one specific point; e.g.. the discharge pipes of factories.
Definition of nonpoint source pollution - pollution that comes from many diverse sources and is hard to control, e.g.. excess farm and lawn nutrients that move through the soil into the ground water or enter local waters directly through run off during heavy rains.

Procedure: Mount mural sized paper on a wall. Sketch a river from its source to its mouth. Include some tributaries.

Ask students to tell how they have used a local river or how they have seen one used. The term point and nonpoint source pollution should be introduced and clarified at this point..

Tell students they are going to add details to this river to show the many ways rivers are used by people and wildlife. Have students pair up and give each a pair a task card. One student can be the idea person, the other the illustrator. The art work will be done at desks then cut out and added to the mural. Students will choose where on the course of the river they will place their cut out illustrations.

Once the mural is complete, analyze it using leading questions like the following: If you could predict where a city might start, where on the river would it be and why? What will happen to the people and animals downstream if someone uses the river for waste disposal? Where on this river should a protected area be and why? Where on this river would you expect to see a conflict of interests? Is there a spot where point and nonpoint pollution might be a problem? Where is the cleanest part of the river? Where is the dirtiest part of the river? Where should a road and bridge be located and why? Should each town along the river have to pay for any cleanup effort?
Invite students to generate more questions about the river they have created in this activity.

Debrief. Ask students what they have done in this project and what they think was the purpose.

Draw conclusions. Some examples are: Rivers are used in many ways.
Some uses are beneficial for people, animals, and the environment, and others are harmful.
Downstream users are affected by upstream activity.
River pollution can come from point and nonpoint pollution.
People need to think about the consequences of using the river before they use it.

Evaluation/Assessment: Write an essay on how rivers should be used and why.
Imagine you are going to be the guest speaker at a River Summit in which all aspects of river use will be discussed. Write an outline of your speech and a summary of the main ideas you hope all the people in the audience will understand.

Extension/Enrichment: Do research on the many uses of a river in another part of the world. Make a visual aide to go with your research.

Go to your favorite spot on a local river and write a poem about your feelings or attachments to the river.

Read the book A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry and write a book review and recommendation for other readers.

Reflection: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises?
What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments?
Thank you,
The authors

Handout: Task Card Topics

Copy each task onto a 3x5 index card. These are only suggestions; you may want to add your own.

Recreation: sailing, tubing, fishing, racing, swimming
Transportation: barges, boats, rafts
Port facilities for coastal or inland trade
Boat launch and landing
River park with signs
Dam and reservoir: flood control, hydroelectric power, water supply
Floodplain agriculture: grain crops, grazing animals, hayfields
Panning for gold
Drinking water for people and animals
Waste disposal, sewage, bacteria
Habitat for aquatic life and other wildlife
Food supply for people and animals
Religious events like baptism or purification rites
Cultural events like Riverfest
Washing clothes or bathing
Inspiration for a piece of artwork, a story, poem, dance, music
Diverting the river water into canals
Sunbathing or picnicking on a sandy bend in the river
Mail delivery boat to homes or cottages along the river
Taking clay from the riverbank for pottery
Float logs
Scientifically studying the river to see if it is healthy, changing course, or if flow is increasing or decreasing
Set traps for beaver, otter, mink, muskrat
Set boundaries between towns, states, or countries
Set aside greenways, trails that follow the river and wildlife refuge area


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