Fifth Grade NGSS
Water, Ecosystems, Human Impact


Create a 3 dimensional model of a local watershed.


·         Looking at a local watershed.
·         Creating a watershed model from a map.

·         storm water
·         water supply

·         TriCity area in San Francisco Bay Area Placemats
·         Local Watershed
·         Shape it (dough)
Plastic spoons, knives or other items to help mold a watershed



Wetlands can be various sizes and shapes, with either freshwater, brackish water, or marine water for a portion or an entire year. Marshy, boggy, or swampy areas also qualify as wetlands.  

There are three indicators of wetlands that include the presence of water, soil development under aquatic conditions, and the presence of wetland plants. Water can be caused by run-off or ground water and is available during the growing season.

Wetlands are important for biological life because it sustains a diversity of organisms throughout the year. Wetlands provide rest stops for migrating animals like birds. Wetlands also filter and clean storm water from pollutants. Different wetlands fill different functions in an ecosystem. Tyson Lagoon is a permanent, freshwater wetland, whereas the other areas that contain water only during the rainy season are considered seasonal wetlands.

Watersheds naturally clean themselves as water can be filtered as it flows through wetlands. Water that migrates through the different levels of the watershed nourishes biological life. However, we sometimes pollute these wetlands by discharging industrial or municipal waste into the watershed (point source pollution). This overloads the system and pollution of toxic substances may increases. Even small amounts of pollution (non point pollution) can accumulate and cause significant damage. Our watersheds reflect the health of our environment.


1.     Show students the local watershed map and see if the students can recognize the different areas.  (


2.    Hand out the placemat of the Tri-City Area.  Ask the students to find the following places, by putting their finger.  Walk around and check that they correctly have found the areas.
a.  cities of Newark, Fremont, Union City
b.  ask them what is the difference between the brown, light blue and dark blue lines on the map  (make sure they see the legend).  The brown are sewage line, the dark blue represent storm drains, pipes, and natural water movement; the light blue is drinking water
c.   Find East, West, North, South  (east is where the East Bay Hills are, Mission Peak)
d.  how does the water flow
e.  locate:  Tule Ponds and Lake Elizabeth
f.  outline the Mowry Slough Watershed, Laguna Creek Watershed, and Alameda Creek Watershed

3.    Use the Water Slideshow to go over the importance of water, assuring students they will learn more about water throughout the year.  Go quickly through the slides (emphasis just that water is universal solvent (everything dissolves in it) and is a strong molecule.  It can cut through soil and rocks over time.  The flow of water is dependent on gravity.  It flows downhill and creates enough energy to undercut part of the earth’s surface (erosion).


Stop at page 6 and show students the pattern of water flowing downhill.  On the placemat you can see the pattern by the canyons from Mission Peak area to the flatland.


Hand out the shape it trays so students can create their own watershed.  Ideally 2 -3 students can work on a project.  Students should produce something that is hilling and forms a network of streams  (called dendritic pattern).  The watershed is defined as gravity acting on an area to bring all the water and debris downward.


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