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Cross/Cultural Sister Watershed Unit

Miriam Turner


This is an outline for a series of activities in which students do an in depth examination and comparison of 2 major rivers and watersheds. These activities were originally carried out in 1991.


  • To develop awareness of students of environmental concerns on a global level.
  • To involve students directly with students in other cultures on environmental issues.
  • To encourage and improve communication skills.
  • To develop skills in interpersonal relationships.
  • To encourage students to think on a local/global level.
  • To encourage use/skill in computer communications.


  1. TSW know how to use a modem with a computer

  2. TSW be able to converse via Project Green with students in Sydney, Australia

  3. TSW collect data and/or information about Sydney, Australia's watershed such as:
    • name
    • location
    • water quality test results
    • environmental concerns
    • demographics of watershed
    • number/names of schools involved
    • existing/future programs in Sydney working with the watershed problems/concerns

  4. TSW research/get information from students re: the social studies aspect of the watershed in Sydney and the RRW.
    • What is the historical development of the river?
    • What are the tributaries of the Sydney watershed?
    • What effect does the history have on the watershed today?
    • What effect does this have socially today?

  5. TSW share data from RRW with Sydney schools

  6. TSW summarize information in a report form

  7. TSW work in groups (2 or 3) to develop ACTION PLAN
    • What similarities are between watersheds?
    • What differences are there?
    • What activities are being done to resolve issues in both watersheds?
    • Why does the situation in Sydney concern us?
    • What are the social concerns in both watersheds?
    • What ACTION PLAN could be developed from this information involving both Sydney and RRW?
    • How could this be expanded to a total global effort?

  8. TSW present group ACTION PLAN in a preset format

  9. TSW evaluate program/offer suggestions for future such programs


  • Computers
  • Student activity supplies
  • Worksheets
  • RRW information
  • Envelopes/Stamps
  • Modems
  • Project Sheet
  • Sydney, Australia information
  • Water Quality Testing Videos
  • Field Monitoring Books

Lesson Planning:

Unit 1-Develop experience on modem/initial contact with Sydney, Australia

Part 1

  • Pass out sheets explaining project
  • Explain use of modem to students
  • Hand out sheet on computer commands
  • Hands on experience with modem

Part 2

  • Hand out sheet listing information requested for introductory letters
  • Students are to write introductory letters on paper to use in first communication including personal information about student picture, age, name, school, hobbies, interests, school activities, future plans, feelings re: environmental concerns, any other pertinent information
  • Letters are to be previewed by teacher
  • Letters are to be written for mailing
  • Letters are collected and mailed by Bill Stapp, University of Michigan, Environmental Dept.

Unit 2-Understanding the RR Watershed

Part 1-Historical picture of Rouge River Watershed

  • Teacher presentation on historical aspect of RRW (overhead, slides, lecture)
  • Student activity on RRW (see Rouge River Resource Book)

Part 2-Social concerns of today re: RRW

  • Brainstorming
  • Teacher presentation (overhead, slides, lecture)
  • Student activity on social concerns of RRW

Part 3-Water quality testing and RRW

  • Teacher presentation (overhead, slides, videos, lecture)
  • Student activity on water quality testing

Part 4-What is being done to Part in RRW

  • Teacher presentation (overhead, slides, lecture)
  • Student Activity (see Rouge Resource Book)

Unit 3-Understanding Sydney's Watershed

Part 1-Communicating with Australia

  • Communication with Australia
  • Begin communication via modem with Sydney
  • Summarize each communication

Part 2-Information assimilation

  • Supplement information with research
  • Teacher presentation on Australia

Unit 4-Creation of an Action Plan

Part 1-Group activities on ACTION PLAN

  • Brainstorming
  • Research on what is being done
  • Group summaries

Unit 5-Relating Action Plan on a total global aspect

Part 1-How can what was found out be adapted?

  • Brainstorming
  • Group activities
  • Correlation of ideas

Unit 6-Finalizing findings

Part 1-Presentation formatting
Part 2-Finish presentation
Part 3-Evaluation of project


Introduction of Project/Computer Usage:
Week 1-Computer exp./Letters of Introduction

Social Aspects of Watersheds:
Week 2-Rouge River History
Week 3-Social Concerns of RRW
Week 4-What is being done
Week 5-Australia History
Week 6-Social Concerns of Sydney
Week 7-What is being done
Week 8-Comparison of Watersheds

Water Quality Testing:
Week 9-Introduction to Water Quality Testing
Week 10-Review of testing/videos
Week 11-Application of testing results
Week 12-Testing dates for Rouge Project/Sharing data

Action Plan:
Week 13-Development of Action Plan
Week 14-Presentation of Action Plan
Week 15-Program Evaluation

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