West Virginia Watershed Dynamics is a cooperative educational project between West Virginia middle and high school science teachers, West Virginia University (WVU), the West Virginia GLOBE Program, and the National Science Foundation. The project uses geospatial technology to teach watershed science, the geography of the hydrologic cycle. The project is funded by a grant to Dr. Rick Landenberger and Dr. Tim Warner (WVU Geology & Geography), and Dr. Jim Rye (WVU Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies). During 2009-2010, an initial cohort of West Virginia school teachers gained skills in spatial learning and developed and taught project-based learning units about their local watersheds. During 2011, a second cohort gained similar skills using an adapted curriculum and lessons learned from the first cohort.
· What is Geospatial Technology?
Geospatial technology - GIS (Geographic Information Systems), GPS (Global Positioning Systems), and Remote Sensing (satellite imagery and aerial photographs) - is a very powerful set of integrated tools that allow teachers and their students to explore and study a wide range of disciplines in a highly engaging, powerful, and exciting way.
The project supports West Virginia science teachers in implementing GLOBE's 'Watershed Dynamics' Earth System Science Project. Teachers and their students who participate in West Virginia Watershed Dynamics will map and study their local watershed to gain an understanding of how land use and land cover influence local water quantity and water quality. The project is designed to meet the state's CSO's in science, technology, and geography, and is aligned with the 21st Century Skills initiative. Teacher are provided with a stipend, on-campus room and board, software, and all necessary equipment.
To participate in the project, teachers completed a sequence of two graduate (600 level) courses through the WVU Department of Geology & Geography and Department of Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies. Requirements for completing both courses are enumerated here. Below are overviews of each course:
A watershed, also call a "drainage
basin", is an area of the Earth's surface that drains into a stream or
river. Watersheds can be outlined on a map,
and are commonly mapped, studied, and analyzed using computers, satellite
images, and other high technology tools. West Virginia lies on the
eastern continental divide; the northern, western and southern counties drain
into the Ohio and Mississippi river systems, and the eastern panhandle and eastern
Potomac Highlands drain into the Potomac River system. Within each of these
larger river systems there are many smaller watersheds.
Land uses such as forest, agriculture, housing developments, and urban areas, acting together with climate and topography, determine the discharge rate, physical properties, and chemical composition of water in the watershed. Therefore land uses and the physical characteristics of the watershed are important factors in determining how watersheds function. A significant part of the West Virginia Watershed Dynamics Project involves learning how to use geospatial tools and technology to understand the physical, cultural, and ecological characteristics of your local watershed. To check the latest discharge rates and flood watches from the USGS river gages in West Virginia, click here (find the nearest gage to your location, and click on the point locations on the map to the see the current stage, hydrograph, and discharge forecast).
Geospatial technology - GIS (Geographic Information
Systems), GPS (Global
Positioning Systems), and Remote
Sensing (satellite imagery and aerial photographs) - are a very
powerful suite of tools that allow teachers and their students to explore and
study a wide range of disciplines in a highly engaging, powerful, and exciting
way. 'Geospatial' refers to the Earth in spatial (geographic) terms,
thus geospatial technologies are the technical tools used to explore and
understand Earth's physical, biological, and cultural geography.
Geospatial technology is a rapidly growing field not only in the U.S., but internationally as well. Google Maps is an example of geospatial technology, and has effectively raised our awareness of the power and excitement of computer-based mapping.
A good place to start is to locate the USGS topographic map of your area using the on-line USGS Map Locator.