Time needed: 45 minutes
Setup: Let’s look at how important trees are to climate change and equality. Did you know that trees are one of our most powerful tools to help fight climate change?
As Earth’s temperature rises due to climate change, our weather is becoming more extreme and unpredictable, causing big changes worldwide—polar ice caps melting, wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, and extreme heat and cold. A big reduction in carbon pollution will help prevent even worse climate change.
Planting trees is one way to reduce carbon pollution. We need to plant trees because all over the world, climate change is damaging the ability of forests to grow back on their own. Planting millions of new trees will not only help existing trees and forests; it will also clean the air and reduce greenhouse gases and pollution.
In cities, trees help cool communities and provide shade. They provide habitats for wildlife. When communities suffer from the lack of trees or their destruction, people suffer, too. And women, people of color, people living in poverty, and marginalized groups, such as indigenous people, suffer the most.
In this activity, you are going to learn about watersheds. So why are watersheds important? A watershed can be a very small area that drains into a local pond or stream. Think of the creek behind your house, or the watershed for the pond down the road—these drain into small bodies of water and cover small land areas.
Watersheds are made up of a lot of vegetation—trees, grass, and shrubs. Trees protect the watershed by protecting the soil’s surface from erosion. Trees also provide a canopy that keeps the water cool.
Despite their differences in sizes, all watersheds share the same goal—to transfer water over the Earth’s surface, which in turn helps to preserve trees.
In this activity, you’ll build your own watershed to understand how it works. You’ll need a large baking pan or paint tray, newspaper, masking tape, white plastic garbage bags (you can also use wax paper or a plastic grocery store bag), spray bottle or watering can, and blue food coloring.
You can work in groups or individually to make your watershed model. Let’s get started.
Crumple newspapers into several small and larger “balls.” These balls will represent shapes for your peaks, ridges, and mountains.
Place the newspaper shapes in your pan. Use tape to hold them in place.
Drape the plastic garbage bag over the paper balls. The plastic cover is the Earth’s surface, and the lumps are your mountains and hills.
Fill your watering can or spray bottle with water and blue food coloring.
Spray or pour over your model to see how the water behaves. Where does the water flow? Do you see low points filled with water that might represent lakes and rivers?
Now that you are finished, think about these questions:
What was it like simulating a watershed?
Trees and watersheds have a direct link. One can’t survive without the other. In what ways are they important to each other?
How does deforestation affect your life and the lives of others?
Troop Leaders: The instructions for all badge steps are available free of charge in the Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit.