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Google Earth Tours

The third graders are creating tours of their journey through the Nisqually Watershed using Google Earth! By the end of the year, you will be able to follow their journey from the top of Mount Rainier to the Puget Sound, and learn some interesting facts from their notes, observations, and science journals along the way. We drop placemarks at all of our field trip location, and write some notes on what we did and learned at each place. 

Google Earth is a free download if you’d like to have it at home for practice (their files live on their school laptops). Click the Google Earth icon on the right to go to the GE downloads page.

Watch the Beginner tutorial video for adding placemarks and creating tours to help you get started. This is what we’ll be working on at various times the rest of the school year! (More advanced instructions/tutorials are available here)

Google Earth Tutorial

When we finish, please enjoy the tours, which will be downloadable here
Chris Maun's "The Living River"
On clear days, it is possible to sit on the dock at the Nisqually Reach Nature Center on Puget Sound and gaze across the mudflats and saltmarsh of the Nisqually Delta while viewing the massive glacier clad slopes of Mount Rainier, where the river begins. An active imagination can take the viewer up to the summit, 14,410 feet above where they currently sit.

In between these two points, the Nisqually River Basin is a rich and varied environment containing a myriad of ecological communities. From montane to marine, these communities are directly linked by the living river.

Just as a toolshed hasfloors, walls and a roof, so too does a watershed. Its walls are the sides of valleys and mountains, its floor bottomlands with streams, river and lakes, and its roof a ceiling of clouds.

Watershed are systems as well as structures. They gather precipitation and funnel it into a common waterway. Small rivulets merge with others which in turn mix with streams before they enter the river. Ultimately, the Nisqually River drains over 700 square miles of land, nearly a half million acres, before returning the water it has gathered to Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean.

The water cycle directly links the Nisqually River and the Pacific Ocean. In fact, the Nisqually provides over half the fresh water which flows into the southern end of Puget Sound.

There are many aspects to this system. The geology and physical features of the land affect and in turn are affected by the climate of the watershed and region. The biotic community of plants and animals are part of the watershed. People, as inhabitants who live and work within watersheds, are also part of this integrated system. Often, watersheds are referred to as basins, and like a wash basin, river basins contain and drain water.