Fermilab LInC Online

Flooding Rivers


Brian Schad and Miles Robinson


Student Pages


Index of Projects


Grade level: 5th

Subject: Effects of flooding on a community

Learner Outcomes:

  1. The students will develop and construct a city.
  2. The students will demonstrate how the various parts of a city are related to each other.
  3. Each student will plan and construct a building.
  4. Each student will sketch several corner views of the constructed building.
  5. The students will explain how flooding impacts a city.
  6. The students will develop a plan to prevent future flooding within the city.


This flooding rivers project will be completed throughout the year by students at Lawton School in Ann Arbor Michigan and by students at the Kingswood campus. The Kingswood campus is part of the Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. This campus is conveniently located along the banks of the Rouge River. Lawton School is approximately five miles from the Huron River. Even though the Huron River has experienced some flooding, it has not been a major problem like that found along the Rouge River. Because these two rivers are similar in their flow rates and are in adjoining watersheds with basically identical weather, they can be used for comparisons and controls. Both rivers also have extensive watershed studies and watershed projects that can be accessed or joined to extend the scope of the project. As the project progresses through its different phases, the students will develop their own web pages that include their experiences and results. Web page presentations will be shared in a final report to the class. A separate web page will also be maintained for posting data and conclusions. Information and results will be solicited and shared with the different watershed projects. These projects include the Huron Watershed Council, the Rouge River Project, the Friends of the Rouge River, and Project Green.

Beginning/Getting Started

The students will begin by writing a letter requesting help on a hydrology project. Within the letter, the students will focus on the flooding that is occurring along the Huron River. This will lead to a discussion about the flooding of the river and how it affects the students and the city of Ann Arbor. Several students will have experienced flooding caused by a tributary of the Huron River.

After deciding to participate in this project, the class will brainstorm river related problems that they think exist today. The discussion should include weather related topics as well problems that are caused by people. These lists will be posted on a large sheet of paper in the front of the room. I will divide students into groups of three. They will spend several class periods investigating more about the problems listed in the brainstorming session. This work will be done in the computer lab and library.
Concepts that the students will explore include finding detailed maps of
the area, discovering information about the watershed concept, locating data on local
weather and annual precipitation, and finding some basic information about
flooding. The groups will need some guidance and direction to achieve the desired outcomes. Students will be reminded to record each source of material used so that it can be included later in their bibliography. Each group of students will then add to the brainstormed list and present what they have discovered.

During these initial stages of the project, the students will also begin receiving instruction on the development of web pages using the Dreamweaver software. Such concepts as creating links, tables, and layers will be discussed. The students will learn how to use the software by completing many different activities on a laptop computer that is being supplied to each teacher by the State of Michigan. This instruction and hands-on experience will occur throughout the year.

Twenty Questions: The first of many trips will be taken to the Huron river.
Because the river is not within walking distance of the school, it will be
necessary for the class to use the Ann Arbor city bus system. The cost of
the half hour bus ride (transfer included) is 35 cents. The students will sit alone by
the river with a notebook and a pencil and write down all of the questions they can think of pertaining to why there would be flooding. The goal is to have the students write down twenty questions. The students will then sort their list of questions so that similar questions will be grouped together. These categories of questions will determine the projects that can be completed during the school year. From this list each student will choose a category which interest them. Students with similar interest will work together. Each group will also contain students with a wide range of abilities. Each team will organize themselves and then clearly define their question. They will use forms that are included on the web page to clearly state their problem or question. The group then will
decide on the roles of each group member. Are there specific tasks that each member will be responsible for?

Middle/In Progress

After the groups are defined and the projects outlined, each group will decide what work needs to be completed. This work will be based upon a project timeline. Trips to the river will be scheduled on a regular basis. Texas Instruments graphing calculators and CBL 2's will be utilized to measure such things as motion, temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen. This data may be useful as the students work to complete the project. Students will also utilize the library, the computers in the classroom and the computer lab. Local Hydrologist will be consulted through various stages of the project. Homework will be assigned by the group to make sure the time line is being met. Weekly online meetings with the students at the Kingswood Campus will be scheduled by each group to share ideas, data and progress towards the final report. Video conferencing is also a possibility. One member of the group will keep a daily log of work that is completed. This log is checked weekly by the team to make sure that all of the members are working towards solving the problem and meeting the goal and time line. The teacher will use this log to assess and evaluate the students' progress. Throughout the project, the group will develop their web page. The web page will include the question that describes the project, the group's explorations, findings and results.

When the project has been competed, each group will present their web page that illustrates their results. The team will present and defend their work, research, and
conclusions, noting the points that are made to make their study more valid. Experiments, data, and conclusions will be maintained on a separate web page so that the Kingswood Campus and other schools will have access to the research that is being completed. Digital pictures of group work will be posted on the separate web page.

The Huron and Rouge River results will then be compared by the two schools. How are the two rivers similar and how are the two rivers different are important questions that need to be answered.


The final presentation will be made at a meeting with Huron River officials or to the local hydrologist(s). The Groups will present their web pages explaining what they have learned. Each group will produce a document that presents their work from start to finish with conclusions and a bibliography of sources used. These will be bounded and presented to the watershed officials. Besides the many assessments made throughout the project, assessments will also be made at the time of the oral presentation to the class. Results of the final report will be posted on the separate web page for anyone to see.

Pages for Students

Pages for Teachers

Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author(s): Miles Robinson (mrobinson@cranbrook.edu), Brian Schad (schad@aaps.k12.mi.us )
Cranbrook Schools, Kingswood Girl's Middle School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and Lawton Elementary Ann Arbor, Michigan
Created: February 15, 2001 - Updated: April 18, 2001
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/yourfoldername/student.html