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hi-ce Water Unit: What is the Water Like in Our River?



Water Unit: What is the Water Like in Our River? was developed by hi-ce (Highly Interactive Computing in Education) at the University of Michigan. This unit was developed for 7th grade students to help foster an understanding of earth science and ecological concepts by investigating the quality of water in a local river. These concepts include watersheds, erosion and deposition, and biological indicators of water quality. During the project, students investigate the quality of their watershed by asking probing questions, conducting experiments, and drawing a conclusion. Students are facilitated in their investigation by using technologies such as data collection probes and Model-it, a dynamic modeling tool. This tool helps students construct a model of their aquatic ecosystem. Students continually plan, build, test, and evaluate their model based on the inquiry-based activities within this project.

The Water Unit is divided into four units or learning sets. Each unit provides information about the topic and contains detailed instructions for each activity. Also, each unit is structured around a driving question. For example, "What is the water like in our river?" Students engage in a meaningful inquiry-based investigation and develop the knowledge and the skills necessary to answer this question. Because students are investigating a river situated in their community, they are naturally led to question what action they can take as an individual to improve the water quality. The first learning set takes approximately five days and will answer questions such as "What is water quality?" "What can we find in our river?" and "What do we want to know about our river?" The second learning set takes approximately eighteen days and will answer the question "Where is my river located?" by building computer models, investigating stream tables, and adding information to the computer model. The third learning set takes approximately twelve days. It will answer the question "What impacts water quality?" The fourth learning set is optional and takes approximately five days to complete. It involves the collection and identification of aquatic organisms as an indicator of water quality


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