Lesson 6

Model a Wetland


Reproducible: FYI! Wetland Ecosystems

For background information on wetlands, make copies of the reproducible. Have students read the text aloud and answer the Reflect and Review questions independently. Or read and discuss the answers to the questions together.



Students will build a wetland model and perform several experiments to observe two of the benefits provided by these ecosystems - flood control and water purification.


Content Standards Addressed:



  • Roasting pan.
  • Modeling clay.
  • Pieces of indoor-outdoor carpeting.
  • Pitcher.


Spread a layer of modeling clay in half of a roasting pan to represent land. Leave the other half of the pan empty to represent a lake or other body of water, such as a river or ocean.

Shape the clay so that it gradually slopes down to the body of water (see diagram).

Smooth the clay along the sides of the pan to seal the edges. You can also form meandering streams in the clay that lead into the body of water.

Cut a piece of indoor-outdoor carpeting to completely fill the space across the pan along the edge of the clay (see diagram). The carpeting represents the wetland buffer between the dry land and open water.

To show how the wetland helps with flood control, fit the piece of carpeting into the center of the pan. Pour some water slowly into the streams of clay. Some of the water will be slowed down by the wetland (carpeting). The excess water slowly flows into the body of water.

Pour out the water and remove the "wetland." Now, pour the same amount of water at the same rate and spot as before. The water should fill the body of water much faster. This shows how the wetlands help reduce the impact of flooding.

Empty water from the pan and replace the carpet piece. This time, slowly pour some muddy water into the streams. The carpet should trap quite a bit of soil particles. This will help show how wetlands help trap sedimentation and purify water.