Middle School classroom has ten basic elements:
age-appropriate activities that include a learning phase, where
information is read, and a testing phase, where the knowledge is
either tested in a quiz or matching exercise, used to fill in a form,
or put to use to solve a problem.
Also on the blackboard, a list
of relevant vocabulary - with
definitions just a click away.
A bookcase, with
a section that provides useful background information on each of the
Middle School activities.
A computer gateway to
many of the environmental organizations and agencies that serve the
greater Potomac region.
A window to
some of our favorite Potomac Highlands images.
An "open book" with
a reading selection that will change periodically.
A magnifying glass that
takes a closer look at some of the Potomac Highlands smaller
- A blackboard -
A “BMI” poster, that leads to the benthic macroinvertebrate activity page.
A “Bay Buoy”, that leads to a page with links to real-time data for stream flow, precipitation, and the Chesapeake Bay buoys.
Blueprints and a pick that lead to hands-on projects done by classes that use the eSchool.
The Middle School curriculum
includes modules on the watershed, reducing pollution, and stream
sampling. The watershed curriculum introduces
students to the parts of a watershed - things like vegetation, bedrock,
and aquifers. It then teaches how the different parts of a watershed
interact. The watershed pollution curriculum teaches how good land
management practices can reduce pollution in our rivers and
lessons provide background on the reasons for and the process of stream
Watch the video at right
to take a tour of the eSchool. Note: this video does not have a preloader;
it may take a minute or two to load while the screen is blank.
Institute’s eSchool activities
can be used as components of Project Based Learning, where
students seek a solution to a complex problem through a collaborative
process over an extended period of time. When coupled with hands-on conservation or research
projects, they can provide a full Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE).
Learn more about Project Based Learning and MWEEs.
eSchool classes to look into local issues, identify a problem that would be
improved by hands-on efforts, and to then develop and implement a plan
to address the issue. We have, or can usually find, technical and
financial resources to support such activities in the Chesapeake Bay
projects page to see
what classes that use our eSchool have done out in the real world.
The Potomac Highlands Watershed School’s activities
can be used as components of Project Based Learning, where students seek a solution to a
complex problem through a collaborative process over an extended period
of time. When coupled with hands-on conservation or
research projects it provides a Meaningful Watershed Education
Experience (MWEE), an expansive form of project based learning that is a
curriculum requirement in MD, VA, PA, and D.C.
Learn more about PBLs and MWEEs.
Why worry about watersheds?
part, because watersheds are where we live – most obviously in
mountainous terrain like West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands. Perhaps
more importantly, the watershed – rather than political boundaries -
has become the organizing concept underlying environmental assessment
and protection efforts at both the local, state and regional levels.
This is a logical approach, as most of us "live downstream"
from somebody else, and that somebody we are downstream from lives in
our watershed. For example, the Chesapeake Bay is "downstream"
from West Virginia, and efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay from
pollution focus on pollution delivered through watersheds (like the
increasingly seek to solve problems by working with inclusive citizen's
groups known as watershed associations; as the name implies, watershed
associations consist of people living within a watershed who have a
shared interest in a clean environment.
This has created
a new and very positive way for citizens to work with and impact
What is a Watershed?
is a simple Flash narrative
about the watershed concept paced for the elementary school level.
However, based on substantial feedback, is quite effective for middle
school and even slower readers at the high school level. The idea
of using water flowing off the roof of a shed to introduce the watershed
concept was based on an experience in the real world where CI staff was
in a shed with a bunch of middle school students talking about
watersheds - and it started to rain.
Potomac Watershed Puzzle
II. This activity
explores the geography of watersheds.
- the user builds a watershed by matching the parts of the watershed
with their functions.
Cycle. This activity, which is on the
Region of Waterloo website (in California),
has a very nice
water cycle animation that introduces the way water moves through a
Web Scavenger Hunts
- the user visits websites from around the region to find answers to
questions about West Virginia's Potomac Highlands.
Since these activities are
interrelated, a single lesson plan is offered
here. This lesson
plan may also be downloaded as a PDF file here.
Complete question and answer
sheets for each activity are available to teachers on
request. Please email us here
and request this information. It would be best if your return email
address is identifiable as belonging to a school employee. Otherwise,
you will be contacted by Cacapon Institute staff to ensure that you are
a teacher, and not a student, prior to receiving the requested material.
the relationship between people's actions and their impacts on the
environment. In Stream Cleaner,
a stream is polluted with excess nutrients (fertilizer) and sediment (dirt).
The user has access to a "tool kit" with five Best Management Practices
they can use to reduce pollution. Each tool has a cost associated with
its use, and the student has $10,000 to spend to clean up the water.
agencies and community members in WV's Potomac region are working on the same issues raised by Stream Cleaner
with the ambitious goal of cleaning up our WV rivers and
the Chesapeake Bay. The Pollution section of the Middle School
bookshelf provides information about this West Virginia Potomac Tributary
Strategy Process - which is attempting to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution while minimizing economic and social burdens on our community.
The bookshelf also provides a number of relevant links.
Stream Cleaner and pollution studies lesson plan is available
and may also be downloaded as a PDF file
Have you ever found yourself out by
the river with a bunch of students, trying desperately to get them to focus
on stream sampling – and all they want to do is play in the water and
hunt for crayfish?
Use the Benthic
Macroinvertebrate activities in the classroom before your field trip to
introduce key concepts and the cast of characters they might see in the
stream. That will help them focus on the lesson when they are in the
field -- and they might find themselves competing in a diversity
treasure hunt to find stoneflies, water pennies, and mayflies instead of
just crayfish. Use the BMI material when you get back to the classroom
to reinforce their learning. The BMI/Stream Sampling lesson plan
for Middle School is
also available for
download as a PDF file.