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Look at the rain-water running from the pipe on the side of the building! It looks just like water should, doesn't it? We should put a pie pan under the pipe and collect some of the water. Also, after a hard rain, let's dip out some water from the stream behind the school, and put some into a pie pan. The pans can be labeled as to where the water was collected, and then set aside on the countertop for a few days.

What happened to the water? It is gone! It must have evaporated! Water does that if it is left alone and has no lid. So do some other liquids. It just sort of mixes with the air and rises, and we don't see it until it comes down again next time it rains. Almost like magic!

So that water has evaporated from both pans. What's left in the pans? Yuck! Some of it looks sort of like dirt. There, in the pan we collected from the stream, it looks like a plastic milk bottle lid. Somebody wasn't careful about throwing out trash.

Look carefully at the "dirt." What is it really, and how did it get into the water? Some of it might be soil from the sides and bottom of the stream. Running water causes the soil to erode, and the water carries away the little bits that have worn away (that's what "erode" means) from the sides and bottom of the stream. There may even be some seeds in there. The rain could have washed seeds from some plants, and carried the seeds along in the stream. Water can also carry leaves and needles that fall from trees near the stream.

Look carefully at the stuff that came from the building's roof. Sometimes a hard rainfall can wear away (erode) bits of the substance of which the roof is made. Some of the sand can come off the shingles of a composition roof. Sometimes the wind blows seeds and they land on the roof. Then, when it rains, the seeds wash down the pipe.

Are there any trees close to the building? Sometimes leaves and needles fall and blow onto the roof. When it rains, the leaves and needles are carried to the gutters. If the gutters get filled with stuff, they won't drain properly, and the roof can leak. Sometimes, the rainwater will carry leaves and needles from the gutters down the pipe.

When water carries solids, the solids often break up into tiny bits and it looks like soil and sand. It is called "silt," and it is important to find out what kinds of solids the water made into silt. Just imagine! Some of those tiny grains of sand used to be great big rocks!


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