TEACH!: Unit 5, Lesson 1.

Water in the Landscape:

What is a Watershed?


The learner will understand the term watershed and be able to explain how water moves through a watershed.


  • 1 Sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper
  • Washable markers
  • Spray bottle filled with water


What is a watershed? A watershed is defined as a geographic area that drains into a lake, stream, wetland, or other body of water. The activities that occur in a watershed greatly affect the quality of the water that passes through it. Watersheds can be large, like the Mississippi River Basin that covers thousands of square miles, or small, like the Brandywine Watershed that covers 330 square miles, or even smaller, like the land that drains into a particular wetland.


  1. Take one piece of paper and crumple it up in your hands.
  2. Open the paper, so it is able to sit somewhat flat on the table. Do not smooth it out.
  3. Take the marker and trace around the high points on the paper.
  4. Spray water over the top of the paper to simulate rain.
  5. Observe what happens when the rain hits the marker lines a top the high points.

As you can see, the water follows certain paths on the paper. Can you identify the miniature watersheds you have created on the map you made? What could some of the impacts from pollution be in the watershed you created?


Adapted from: Wonderwise Women in Science Learning Series. 2000, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska. Urban Ecologist. Click here to go to their site.

Continue to:
Unit 5, Lesson 2.:  The Delaware River game.

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Unit 4, Lesson 2: Who goes there? Discovering tracks and other animal signs

Updated: May 2018