Measuring Stream Discharge

Description: Students measure stream parameters (width, depth, speed) along two stream transects, and graph a vertical slice through the streams showing variation in depth and speed. They calculate discharge (volume per time) for the streams using two different methods, and compare their results with the discharge measured at a U.S. Geological Survey station nearby. Discharge is an important component of fish habitat and flood analysis.

The exercise emphasizes unit manipulation, estimation, averaging, and sampling. Field work requires a flow meter and graphing calculator linked set up, making this activity a bit more dependent upon technology than the others listed at this website.