The Watershed Connection

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In this activity, learners interact with a 3-D model of a watershed to better understand the interconnectedness of terrestrial and aquatic environments. The instructions contain suggestions for "polluting" the watershed (with shredded paper “litter” and chocolate sprinkle “animal droppings”), and for modeling how the watershed cleans itself (using sponges for wetlands). Questions are included for discussing watersheds, how they get polluted, the water cycle, and "actions I can take" based in part on identifying potential pollutants on a real map of the local watershed. The commercial model from EnviroScape is expensive ($800), but the instructions could be used with a more homemade model using bowls and plastic bags.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Human Impact
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and the Environment

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • be mobile

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Liberty Science Center, 2009

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, NSF OCE-0731338