Do we drink the same water as the dinosaurs?

Thank you very much for being a teacher and participating in this module on water. Water – we cannot live without it. We cannot use up the Earth’s water, but we can make the small percent we can drink non-potable.

It has been said we are a water literate state. Please take a bow. Elementary teachers have done a great job of teaching about water.  Education is the key. A major drought, water rationing, wildfires, and previous state standards tended to elevate the importance of water.

“The world’s water is vital to life. Both minor and major changes in Earth’s water can have profound effects on human existence. In order to preserve both the quality and quantity of water for daily living, wise management of water resources is crucial. Knowledge of Earth’s oceans is important for an understanding of how they affect weather, climate, and life. Knowing the properties and circulation of water, their influence on weather and climate, and the availability to ecosystems is necessary for understanding its importance to life” – Previous State Standards.

The new standards simply ask “What would happen if water were removed from an ecosystem?”

I encourage you to keep up the good work. I ask kids ‘Do we drink the same water as the dinosaurs? All that think yes raise your hand.’  Then I ask the same group whether or not they were born in Colorado. The majority of students who answer yes are from Colorado. Keep up the good work. Here are a few activities that will fit into the new geography standards. Paring this curriculum with a CUSP volunteer service project will give students a first-hand look at their own watershed and will encourage them to be good stewards of their environment in the future.

With Great Appreciation,

Theresa Springer

Service opportunities through CUSP that would complement this curriculum include stream bank stabilization, willow planting, trail restoration, trail closures, and exclusionary fencing. To schedule a service learning activity please click here.

Teacher’s Guide 
1. Print and administer the pre-test
2. Activity: Build a Watershed
3. Activity: Mapping – Follow the River A lot of extra information is contained in the teacher’s
directions compared to the student handout.
4. Activity: Sum of the Parts
5. Print and administer the post-test


Students should work on the module in the classroom before going out into the field for a service learning activity.
Pre and post assessments: 15 minutes each
Build a Watershed: 45 minutes
Mapping – Follow the Rivers: 60 minutes; this activity can be broken into two sessions
depending on how well the students understand maps.
Sum of the Parts: two 50 minute sessions


Students will: (1) be able to explain what a watershed is; (2) understand that their water
comes from a watershed, of which they are a part; (3) use maps to explore the Missouri
watershed; (4) recognize everyone contributes to and is responsible for water quality.

Critical thinking question: The water students use goes down stream to many towns and
cities, eventually ending in the ocean. Who are the downstream users? Don’t forget the
ocean animals.

Teacher Guide: Time & Objectives in pdf format
Standards & STEM Connections in pdf format


1. Build a Watershed
      Per group or individual:
      • butcher paper (one side shiny) cut into 12 inch or more lengths
      • water-based markers (blue, black, brown, & red)
      • paper towels
      • spray water bottle
      • colored pencils (1 per student)
2. Mapping – Follow the Rivers
      • computer
      • projector
      • white board
      • dry erase markers
      • printouts of maps and student directions
      • color pencils or markers
3. Sum of the Parts
      • large piece of poster board or newsprint (butcher paper will work too)
      • drawing pens and pencils
      • items from students’ desk (e.g. pencil, paper clip, book)
      • Project WET – Sum of all the Parts (addendum)

    • Teachers will need to have participated in a Project WET workshop & have access to the Project WET Manual to fully complete this activity 

Supplies in pdf format

Teacher Resources:
GIS Background Document


Activity: Build a Watershed

Activity: Mapping – Follow the Rivers

Activity: Sum of the Parts


Documents & Materials:
Pre and Post Test

Student Directions: Mapping – Follow the Rivers

Student Map of America (Slide 4)

Student Map of Colorado (Slide 9)

Follow the River PowerPoint Presentation

Suggested Reading, Links and References

This education module has been put together by the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP). We are a watershed protection association. Watersheds include all aspects of environmental science: Biology, ecology, chemistry, physics, geology, geophysics, geography, hydrology, hydrogeology, limnology, atmospheric science, climate, climatology, meteorology, natural resource management, engineering, and toxicology. It is the water, in all its cycles, the vegetation, the rocks, the lay of the land (above and below the surface), the wildlife, and the human population. Boredom is not part of the job description at CUSP. Diverse, challenging and extreme importance characterizes a watershed.

  • One of the best activity books about water is put out by the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture. Books are available online or at P.O. Box 10, Livermore Colorado. 970.881.2902

  • Project WET has numerous resources and activities.

  • The Colorado Watershed Assembly put together a list of facts about water. Each one is thought provoking.

  • If you are looking to expand your education experience and integrate technology, try using U.S. Geological Survey resources.

    • I highly suggest that you take some of the surveys and look at the responses. It is amazing the difference between Colorado and Arizona, South America and Africa.  If you chose to use this with students, have them look at the number of responses.
  • How Stuff Works has some great activities for students to do with their parents while working on this module. 


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