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.
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- Colorado: Math
- Find a percent of a quantity as a rate per 100. (Grade 6)  ...show
- Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multidigit decimals using standard algorithms for each operation. (Grade 6)  ...show
- Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving the four operations with rational numbers. (Grade 7)  ...show
- Graph proportional relationships, interpreting the unit rate as the slope of the graph. (Grade 8)  ...show
- Construct and interpret scatter plots for bivariate measurement data to investigate patterns of association between two quantities. (Grade 8)  ...show
- Colorado: Science
- 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: December 1, 2015