5-8 Watersheds


The South Carolina Aquarium, in partnership with teachers, has created this online curriculum for teachers to use with their students in the classroom. Our Watersheds unit is geared toward 5th and 7thgrade teachers because the standards covered are heavily 5th and 7th grade science standards. All the activities contain background information, procedures, materials list, standards addressed, assessments, curriculum extensions and a resource list. We hope teachers will enjoy this resource!

If you are a teacher planning to participate in our Watersheds virtual School Program, we recommend completing the following activities before your program. Those activities include: What are Watersheds, Topography and Water Quality. The most important activity being What are Watersheds.

The Aquarium’s School Programs are virtual this school year (2020-2021). We have added at-home and virtual learning modifications to our recommended activities. Be sure to see how you can engage your students at-home and virtually with our activities!

Recommended Pre-visit Activity
At-home and Virtual Options

Students will use a physical map of South Carolina to trace the major watersheds of South Carolina to show where they are located and demonstrate an understanding of the terms watersheds, drainage basins and drainage divides.

Recommended Pre-visit Activity
At-home and Virtual Options

Using newspaper and aluminum foil, students will create a model of a topographic landscape. Water will be sprayed on the model to observe the effect of topography on the shapes and sizes of drainage basins and watersheds.

Recommended Pre-visit Activity
At-home and Virtual Options

Students will learn about water quality by testing the pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen and salinity of water samples in the classroom. Students will then determine the water quality of a local body of water.

Students examine aerial photographs of rivers in South Carolina to observe the sediment that these rivers carry. Students will conduct an inquiry activity to determine how sediment gets into rivers and how it is transported.

Students will learn about point source and non-point source water pollution by making and testing a model of a growing community.

Students will use a jar of marbles to create a model of groundwater. They will identify groundwater, zone of saturation, zone of aeration and water table. Students will then observe and measure what happens when water is poured on samples of clay, sand and gravel to determine the effect particle size will have on the porosity and permeability of sediment.

Students will hypothesize what will be the most common macroplastic collected around their school, record data as they collect litter around the school, graph data to analyze, and generate solutions to litter pollution and their own ecological footprint.

Recommended Post-visit Activity

Students will examine EPA and South Carolina DHEC websites to find out about the watersheds in their area and the issues affecting them. Students will use what they find to devise and implement a project to help watersheds in their local area.