A TEACHING UNIT ENGINEERED TO BRING WATER RESOURCE PROBLEMS INTO THE MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASSROOM
We present one such developed unit that incorporates engineering principles related to flood frequency analysis aimed at middle school students. The unit starts by establishing that they are engineers in their respective firms given the task of determining if a structure built along their stream in their given watershed is adequate. They are given a data packet that consists of all the information they will need to find this solution. Throughout the unit, students become familiar with the components of their watershed and how water moves through the landscape resulting in discharge at their stream. The teaching of each lesson is designed to guide students through how engineers estimate flood discharge and how these estimates impact the design of structures such as bridges, culverts and dams. Each lesson is meant to be stand-alone, however the progression is strategic in that it builds upon knowledge from the previous lesson. This leads to the final project in which they have to use the principles taught to them to determine if the structure can hold a given discharge. It is designed to bring together engineering and earth science to create a basic yet holistic picture of watershed processes. The core teaching strategy is engineered to be engaging, allowing students to discuss a range of ideas and solutions to the problem(s) presented, as there is never a “right” solution to many engineering issues.