Students are given background information to prepare them to conduct two associated activities in which they conduct hands-on experiments with a common faucet and then work with real-world USGS streamflow data to gain a better understanding of flow rate and how it pertains to engineering and applied science. From their experiment calculations, they hypothesize about the flow rate in a nearby river, and then use USGS streamflow data to check their hypotheses. For this lesson to be effective, make sure students obtain a visual feel for the flow in a nearby river.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standard Network (ASN), a project of JES & Co. (www.jesandco.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
Click on the standard groupings to explore this hierarchy as it applies to this document.
- Colorado: Math
- 1. demonstrate meanings for integers, rational numbers, percents, exponents, square roots, and pi (π) use physical materials and technology in problem-solving situations; (Grades 5 - 8)  ...show
- 1. represent, describe, and analyze patterns and relationships using tables, graphs, verbal rules, and standard algebraic notation; (Grades 5 - 8)  ...show
- 5. solve simple linear equations in problem-solving situations using a variety of methods (informal, formal, graphical) and a variety of tools (physical materials, calculators, computers). (Grades 5 - 8)  ...show
- 1. read and construct displays of data using appropriate techniques (for example, line graphs, circle graphs, scatter plots, box plots, stem-and-leaf plots) and appropriate technology; (Grades 5 - 8)  ...show
- 1. estimate, use, and describe measures of distance, perimeter, area, volume, capacity, weight, mass, and angle comparison; (Grades 5 - 8)  ...show
- Colorado: Science
- 2.1 Students know that matter has characteristic properties, which are related to its composition and structure. (Grades 0 - 12)  ...show
- Standard 5:
Students know and understand interrelationships among science, technology, and human activity and how they can affect the world. (Grades 0 - 12)  ...show
- Standard 1:
Students understand the processes of scientific investigation and design, conduct, communicate about, and evaluate such investigations. (Grades 0 - 12)  ...show
- Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Math
- 2. Understand the concept of a unit rate a/b associated with a ratio a:b with b ≠ 0, and use rate language in the context of a ratio relationship. For example, "This recipe has a ratio of 3 cups of flour to 4 cups of sugar, so there is 3/4 cup of flour for each cup of sugar." "We paid $75 for 15 hamburgers, which is a rate of $5 per hamburger." (Grade 6)  ...show
- 9. Know the formulas for the volumes of cones, cylinders, and spheres and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems. (Grade 8)  ...show
- International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: Technology
- H. Modeling, testing, evaluating, and modifying are used to transform ideas into practical solutions. (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- Conduct a scientific investigation.
- Collect, interpret and analyze data in an organized way.
- Calculate the flow rate of a faucet.
- Estimate the flow rate of a river or stream based on visual observation.
- Use the Internet to collect real-time data.
Lesson Background and Concepts for Teachers
- Faucet Flow Rate - Students determine the flow rate of a faucet by timing how long it takes to fill a gallon jug. They do this for three different flow rates, averaging three trials for each. Then they convert their results from gps to cfs units.
- River Flow Rate - Students build on their understanding and feel for flow rate from the associated Faucet Flow Rate activity to estimate the flow rate in a local river, giving them the opportunity to relate laboratory experiment results to the real world. Then they determine the river's flow rate data from a USGS website, and compare their estimates to the actual flow rate.
Lesson Extension Activities
Bobby Rinehart, Karen Johnson, Mike Mooney
© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2005 Colorado School of Mines
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Colorado School of Mines
Last modified: July 6, 2015