This lesson is used to give students a better understanding of how their river&#x2019;s watershed fits into the bigger picture of water flow within our state, through the Great Lakes, and into the Atlantic Ocean.
Students map their local watershed and use a variety of maps to trace the movement of water within their watershed, through the major watersheds of Michigan, and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean.
It is important to reflect on recent learning and then tie it to the Driving Question. This allows students to remain focused on the bigger picture while integrating what they have just learned with the increasing knowledge they have gained since beginning the unit. The connection between topographic maps and the elevation of places within watersheds in Michigan helps students make sense of the flow of water and the interconnectedness of the waterways of our state, nation, and the world.
After learning about the effect of elevation on water flow, students should be able to predict water flow within the watersheds of Michigan based on the use and understanding of a topographic map.
In addition, this understanding should allow them to describe how and why the waters of Michigan flow to the Atlantic Ocean, and the relative elevation of each of the great lakes as a part of this process.
This is an optional activity that could serve the needs of a variety of student learning modalities.
See the investigatethestate.org website for copies of these Michigan maps.
Students demonstrate these proficiencies based on the work they have done in this, and previous, lessons.
Water Quality Lesson 5
Investigate the State
What is the Water Like in Our River?
Where is Our River on the Map?
Learning Set 2 - Lesson 5
Where is Our River Located?
Focus of the Day:
Students work with watershed and
topographic maps to determine the
ﬂow of water from Michigan
watersheds into the Great Lakes and
from the Great Lakes into the Atlantic
Learning Objectives and Purpose
• Using relief maps, students will discuss
and explain how water ﬂows through
Overview of Activities
• Review the Key Ideas from the Models
• Discuss the relationship between the watershed
model and what it represented.
• Help students make connections between
watersheds and the Driving Question.
• Discussion of Michigan Watersheds and
• Comparison of Michigan watersheds and
• Reasoning for ﬂow of all Great Lakes to the Atlantic.
• Students use watershed and topographic
maps to predict the ﬂow of water from
several watersheds to the Great Lakes
and give reasons for their predictions.
• A United States map is used to trace the
path of water ﬂow from students’ local
river to the Atlantic.
• Discuss and reason through the relative
elevation of each of the Great Lakes.
Student Actions (cont.)
• (An optional extension activity: Creation of
a model of Michigan’s topography and
watersheds using a color copy of the
Michigan topographic map. This would be
based on the model format from lesson 1
or clay. Students would plan, build and
test their model followed by a discussion
of the connection between this model and
a colored topographic map.)
• Students will need copies of the Major
Watersheds of Michigan map and the
Topographic map of Michigan.
• Overhead transparencies of these maps are
needed if no document camera is available.
• A large United States physical map is also
needed for this lesson.
Lesson 5 Assessment
• Students, with the use of maps, and journals
or worksheets, are able to demonstrate their
knowledge of the ﬂow of water in Michigan,
the Great Lakes and out to the Atlantic Ocean.
• Students are able to describe the effect of
elevation on water movement.
• (If the extension activity is utilized, students will
demonstrate their understanding of
topography and water ﬂow by translating a
color topographic map to a physical model.)
Preparation for Next Lesson:
Exploring Stream Tables
• The next lesson deals with the exploration
of stream tables.
• Read through the needed materials for and the set-
up of the stream tables.
• Watch the Stream Table video and practice set-up
and use of the model
• Read through lesson six in the teacher materials
and copy the three student worksheets: Exploring
Stream Tables/Introduction; Observation; and
For More Information
• Review the curriculum guide:
“What is the Water Like in Our River?”
• Visit our web site: