Stream Tables and Watershed Geomorphology Education

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Department or Administrative Unit


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Watersheds are basic landscape units that are fundamental to understanding resource and environmental issues. Stream tables may be an effective way to learn about watersheds and the dynamic processes, factors, and landforms within. We review the copious stream table literature, present new ideas for assembling stream tables, and provide a watershed approach to stream table exercises. Our stream table's compact size and low cost permits the purchase and use of multiple units to maximize active learning. The included stream table modules allow introductory students to experiment and observe the effects of factors-i.e., climate (Module A-Precipitation, Overland Flow, and Channel Initiation and Module B-Stream Discharge and Channel Formation), topography (Module C-Watershed Topography and Channel Formation), land cover (Module D-Watershed Cover Types and Channel Formation), and base level (Module E-Local Base Level Changes via Dams and Reservoirs) -on fluvial processes and landforms in a watershed. Course evaluations and exams show that students enjoy the stream table exercise more, and learn the concepts of fluvial geomorphology better, than via traditional topographic map and aerial photograph interpretation exercises.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Geoscience Education. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Geoscience Education


Copyright © 2002 National Association of Geoscience Teachers