Boy with newtsKids love water, but can they learn about science as they splash around?

Karen Hartsock immerses kids in hands-on science every year at Dungannon Intermediate School.  With the help of a grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment, she built a curriculum of watershed games that capture students' interest while helping them acquire essential knowledge to be tested on the Virginia's Standards of Learning exams.

Her curriculums for elementary school, intermediate school, and high school are outlined below.


Elementary School


Project 1 – Incredible Journey

SOLs:4.5

Summary: With the role of a die, students simulate the movement of water within the water cycle.

Materials Needed: 9 large pieces of paper, copies of water cycle table, marking pens, 9 Styrofoam cubes

Source: Project Wet


Project 2 – Thicket Game

SOLs: K.6, 1.5, 3.4

Summary: Students become “predators” and “prey” in a version of “hide and seek”.

Materials Needed: blindfold

Source: Project Wild


Project 3 - Habitat Lap Sit

SOLs: K.6, 1.8, 2.5, 3.6, 4.5

Summary: Students physically form an interconnected circle to demonstrate components of habitat.

Materials Needed: none

Source: Project Wild


Project 4 – Oh! Deer

SOLs: K.6, 1.8, 2.5, 3.6, 4.5

Summary: Students become “deer’ and components of habitat in a highly-involving physical activity.

Materials Needed: marker, flipchart

Source: Project Wild


Project 5 – Deadly Links

SOLs: K.6, 1.8, 2.5, 3.6, 4.5

Summary: Students become “hawks”, “shrews”, and “grasshoppers” in a highly-involved physical activity depicting the movement of pesticides in a food chain.

Materials Needed: Construction paper, sandwich bags, labels

Source: Project Wild


Project 6 – Are You Me?

SOLs: K.6, 1.5, 2.5, 3.6, 4.5

Summary: Students will recognize various young stages of aquatic animals and match them with corresponding adult stages.

Materials Needed: Animal cards

Source: Project Wild Aquatic


Intermediate School


Karen Hartsock teaches kids about watershedsProject 1 – Lost River Village

SOLs: 4.8, 5.8, 6.7, LS 12

Summary: Students will associate underground karst systems with human impact on water quality creating a map of land use activities.

Materials Needed: one set of copy pages, scissors, gluestick, pencil, crayons

Source: Project Underground


Project 2 – Incredible Journey

SOLs: 4.5, 6.3, LS 7

Summary: With the role of a die, students simulate the movement of water within the water cycle.

Materials Needed: 9 large pieces of paper, copies of water cycle table, marking pens, 9 Styrofoam cubes

Source: Project Wet


Project 3 – Thicket Game

SOLs: LS 10

Summary: Students become “predators” and “prey” in a version of “hide and seek”.

Materials Needed: blindfold

Source: Project Wild


Project 4 - Habitat Lap Sit

SOLs: 5.8, 6.7, LS 12

Summary: Students physically form an interconnected circle to demonstrate components of habitat.

Materials Needed: none

Source: Project Wild


Project 5 – Oh! Deer

SOLs: 6.7, LS 10

Summary: Students become “deer’ and components of habitat in a highly-involving physical activity.

Materials Needed: marker, flipchart

Source: Project Wild


Project 6 – Deadly Links

SOLs: 6.7, LS10

Summary: Students become “hawks”, “shrews”, and “grasshoppers” in a highly-involved physical activity depicting the movement of pesticides in a food chain.

Materials Needed: Construction paper, sandwich bags, labels

Source: Project Wild


Project 7 – Migration Headache

SOLs: 5.8, 6.9, LS 12

Summary: Students portray migrating water birds traveling between nesting habitats and wintering grounds. They encounter limiting factors and predict effects of limiting factors.

Materials Needed: paper plates, flipchart pad

Source: Project Wild Aquatic


Project 8 – Wetlands Soils in Living Color

SOLs: 5.5, 6.7, LS 12

Summary: Students learn about the properties of wetland soils and classify soil types using a simple color key.

Materials Needed: pencils, three soil samples, shovel, 64 Crayola crayons, scissors, gluestick, posterboard, yardstick

Source: Project Wet


Project 9 – Something’s Fishy

SOLs: 5.8, 6.5, LS 7

Summary: Students read and discuss a story, inventing their own endings that lead to environmental action in their community.

Materials Needed: copy of story, paper, pencils

Source: Project Wet


Project 10 – Macroinvertebrate Mayhem

SOLs: 5.5, 6.7, LS 12

Summary: Students play a game to simulate the effects of environmental stressors on macroinvertebrate populations. Students then observe the riverbed, capture, identify, and release macroinvertebrates.

Materials needed: identification cards, snorkels, ice trays, net seine, flipchart paper.

Source: Project Wet


Project 11 – Watershed

SOLs: 5.8, 6.5, LS 7

Summary: Students measure the area of a local watershed, calculate the amount of water it receives each year, and discuss the varied roles of the watershed plays in human and wildlife.

Materials needed: tent stakes, hammer, two 50 ft. measuring tapes, two 100ft. measuring tapes, paper, clipboards, local maps, and flipchart pad.




High School

Project 1 – Lost River Village

SOLs: ES.9, Bio. 9

Summary: Students will associate underground karst systems with human impact on water quality creating a map of land use activities.

Materials Needed: one set of copy pages, scissors, gluestick, pencil, crayons

Source: Project Underground


Project 2 – Incredible Journey

SOLs: ES. 9

Summary: With the role of a die, students simulate the movement of water within the water cycle.

Materials Needed: 9 large pieces of paper, copies of water cycle table, marking pens, 9 Styrofoam cubes

Source: Project Wet


Project 3 - Habitat Lap Sit

SOLs: ES.9, Bio. 9

Summary: Students physically form an interconnected circle to demonstrate components of habitat.

Materials Needed: none

Source: Project Wild


Project 4 – Something’s Fishy

SOLs: ES. 9

Summary: Students read and discuss a story, inventing their own endings that lead to environmental action in their community.

Materials Needed: copy of story, paper, pencils

Source: Project Wet


Project 5– Macroinvertebrate Mayhem

SOLs: Es. 9, Bio. 9

Summary: Students play a game to simulate the effects of environmental stressors on macroinvertebrate populations. Students then observe the riverbed, capture, identify, and release macroinvertebrates.

Materials needed: identification cards, snorkels, ice trays, net seine, flipchart paper.

Source: Project Wet


Project 6 – Watershed

SOLs: Es. 9

Summary: Students measure the area of a local watershed, calculate the amount of water it receives each year, and discuss the varied roles of the watershed plays in human and wildlife.

Materials needed: tent stakes, hammer, two 50 ft. measuring tapes, two 100ft. measuring tapes, paper, clipboards, local maps, and flipchart pad.