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Kids' Corner, Watersheds & Wetlands

[Photo]: Forest river.A watershed is a system of water that all comes together. For example, when it rains, you can often see little streams of water running along a street gutter or across a parking lot. These flow into larger streams and finally into puddles or sewage pipes or maybe even into a real stream or river. The watershed for the puddle or sewage pipe or stream, would include all of the small trickles and streams that flow into it, as well as all of the ground that they flow over!

[Image]: WatercycleClouds are formed from water that has left these watersheds through a process called evaporation. Evaporation is the process that changes water from a liquid to a gas. This happens when the water gets too hot and has too much energy--so much in fact, that it can no longer stay on the ground! It wants to FLY!! This gas, called water vapor, then forms the clouds that you see flying way up in the sky.

When clouds get too heavy, and the water vapor gets too cold, losing its energy, the water vapor begins to change back into water through a process called condensation (which is the opposite of evaporation). This is why it rains. If it is really cold, it might even snow or hail! Then, the water can run back into its watershed--or even into another one somewhere completely different, maybe even on the other side of the world!! This is how water RECYCLES itself. It's called the watercycle

The water cycle is a never-ending circle that keeps going and going . . . FOREVER!!! That means that the same water that was here when the dinosaurs were on the earth is still here, and the same water that rains today, might rain next year or the next or the next .. . on and on . . . FOREVER!!



[Photo]: MarshWetlands are amazing ecosystems. They are places where water regularly covers the ground, and can be anything from a swamp to a marsh to a pond. They provide homes for all sorts of wildlife (including bugs, frogs, fish, birds, and deer).

You might be amazed to discover what actually lives in a wetland. It may just look like a giant mud puddle, but if you look at just a SINGLE drop of its water under a microscope, you might see HUNDREDS of weird-looking creatures swimming around. These are called plankton. Some of them will stay that small forever, but some are just bug larvae (or babies) and will grow up to be BUGS.

And if you feel like digging in the mud, you might find small clams, or frogs, or other bugs. Depending on the time of year you are looking, you might find lots of tadpoles swimming around.

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