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Bottomland Hardwood Wetlands (PCEC)

Laboratory and Hands-on Activities - Collection / Sampling
This lesson will explain the features of a river system, flood plains and hydrology of wetlands and will show wetland hydrology in the wetlands around Cook’s Lake.
Grade Level5 and 6 or higher
Recommended SettingIndoor or outdoor classroom
LocationPotlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook’s Lake, Casscoe

Education Program Coordinator, 870-241-3373


Duration1 - 2 hours
Suggested Number of Participants20 - 25
Special Conditions
One adult supervisor per 10 students; outdoor activities, weather permitting.
  • Learn about the water flow through the Cook’s Lake area and create a qualitative water budget.
  • Learn about the signs of water in wetlands, and learn to identify these in the field.
  • Understand the hydrologic relationship among Cook’s Lake, its wetlands and the White River


Key Terms*

Hydrologic indicators



Water budget



Map of area

Measuring tape


Shovel/hand trowel


Hydrology is the study of water and refers to the flow and energy of water rather than the quality or chemistry of water. Cook’s Lake stores water, but the surrounding wetlands also store water in the short- and long-term.



Prerequisites: Participants should understand the following prior to the field trip:

  • The layout of Cook’s Lake and its wetlands on a map
  • The area to be explored in the field trip
  • The major hydrologic inputs and outputs of water for the Cook’s Lake wetlands
  • The indicators of hydrology and what they look like
  • Basic multiplication and division

Participant grouping:

  1. Participants should work in groups of four to six, assigned before arriving at Cook’s Lake. This arrangement will allow each participant to be the leader, data recorder and data collector and increases the chance of locating each indicator type in the field.
  2. For the field exercise, provide each group with a data sheet and map.
  3. Use the data sheet to record the information gathered by the group.
  4. When completed, bring them together to discuss their findings.

Have the participants make and use a Biltmore stick that uses geometry to measure the diameter and height of standing trees.


  • What is the importance of wetlands to an area?
  • What types of trees are conducive to living in a wetland habitat?
  • List how wetlands are good for the environment.

Hydrologic indicators (wetland) – area’s characteristics that classify it as a wetland, including hydric soils, hydrophytic vegetation and hydrologic properties


Hydrology – study of the occurrence, distribution, movement and properties of the Earth’s surface waters and their relationship with the environment within each phase of the hydrologic cycle; continuous process by which water is purified by evaporation and transported from the Earth's surface (including the oceans) to the atmosphere and back to the land and oceans


Storage – a depository for goods or materials


Water budget – reflects the relationship between input and output of water through a given area