Grade 7 students have just completed their Social Studies unit “Rivers of Life.” During this unit, students explored rivers, the system of these rivers, and the geographical processes involved. Students chose a river and researched the central question of this unit: How has your river influenced the society, culture, and geographical processes in the surrounding areas?
“The Nile river enabled farmers who grow cotton, rice, onions, garlic, and citrus fruits to sell their products to other countries. Using the Nile as a trading route benefits both business owners and farmers. However, it has negative effects on normal citizens by polluting the river. In heavily trafficked waterways, boats have a noticeable impact. The presence of vessels increases the growth of algae and kicks up sediments, both of which obstruct sunlight and spoil the water. A decrease in water quality is bad for both wildlife and humans,” said Leah (G7).
“The soil of the Nile River is rich in nutrients and very good for planting crops thanks to annual flooding that deposits silt,” said Ella (G7). “When there is a significant amount of rain, this causes the levels of the Nile River to rise considerably. When the river reaches several meters above its flooding level, there can be catastrophic results for the villages nearby. Extreme flooding is becoming more common because of the changes in the weather, which are resulting in more rain over the Nile River and its tributaries.”
“People living near the Danube [River] are always in danger because of flooding. So far, there have been seven large floods. The 2013 flood began with heavy rain, but suddenly the water level increased by eight meters. It damaged Germany, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia. Germany was the most affected by this flood, reporting 25 cases of death,” said Bella (G7).
The goal was for students to explore the changes that are happening because of these rivers, and the impact that both the surrounding environment (such as pollution from humans) has on these rivers, and the impact rivers have on the surrounding areas (such as flooding and agricultural benefits).
“Danube River is the most polluted river in Europe. The Middle Basin is the most polluted part of the Danube, which is no longer habitable for animals. People cause rivers to be polluted by throwing away trash, pouring chemicals, and overusing it. This causes many creatures to be endangered or to disappear,” said Bella (G7).
“The Nile is polluted by wastewater and rubbish poured directly into it, as well as agricultural runoff and industrial waste. Pollution kills plankton and fish in the river, and the Nile is slowly losing its ability to self-purify as more wastes are poured in,” said Leah (G7).
“The loss of trees and other vegetation along the Amazon River can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, and flooding. The Amazon rainforest spreads across nine countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana, and French Guiana. If all these countries participate in deforestation for their own benefit, it will negatively affect the environment where people live,” said Olivia (G7).
Students spent a few weeks researching and creating displays of their river. Their final display consisted of a drainage basin map, pictures with captions with information regarding human and environmental geography, and a one-page report discussing the historical/cultural importance of their river and the way a river changes, both naturally and artificially.
- Social Studies