Shrinking Mississippi River Levels

Learning Objectives

Students will read a recent science news article and discuss the content.
Depending the on the article, students may be asked to draw connections to current events or other classroom exercises.

Standards Addressed

Depending on the article, one of these standards may be most appropriate:

Subject Area - 1: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

     Standard Area - 1.3: Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Literature - Fiction and Non-Fiction

          Grade Level - 1.3.6: GRADE 6

               Standard - 1.3.6.A: Read, understand, and respond to works from various genres of literature

                    Assessment Anchor - R6.A.2: Understand nonfiction appropriate to grade level.

Preparation Time Needed

<30 minutes, enough time to read the article and associated questions, answer the questions, and possibly come up with more that are relevant to recent class exercises. 

Activity Description

(Part of the PAESTA In The News - Current Events in Earth and Space Science Series. This series compiles current resources and background materials for recent scientific events in the news. Questions are provided with each topic, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, and can be used for classroom discussion and/or as a writing prompt at the beginning/middle/end of an instructional unit.)

In the spring of 2011, the Mississippi River swelled to historic levels.  In 2012, the record-low levels in sections of the Mississippi River have halted cargo traffic.

Articles to Share with Students

General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • Some people are stating that the Mississippi River is experiencing a “drought.”  Examine the definition of “drought” – is this an accurate use of the term? 
  • In July-August 2012, why is the water level low in the Mississippi River?
  • How important are the water levels of the Mississippi River to commerce?  Could the low levels have an effect on us in Pennsylvania?  Explain.
  • Is there any action humans can take to raise the water levels of the Mississippi River?  Why/why not?
  • If you had to get a shipment of grain from Memphis to New Orleans, and you could not ship the grain down the Mississippi River, how else might you deliver the grain?  What might be the impact on Earth’s systems (biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere) to this different form of shipping?

Compiled September 2, 2012, by L.A. Guertin. Teachers are encouraged to search for more recent articles and related discoveries.

PDF icon Download PDF version of this page128.64 KB