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River Study

Learning Objectives

Most students will learn to:

  • Be safe around water
  • Use primary fieldwork techniques
  • Use geographical vocabulary
  • Recognise physical river processes

Key words/phrases

Water cycle, source, spring, river, stream, waterfall, valley, channel, lake, mouth, erosion, pollution, tributary, weir, floodplain, meander, gorge, rapids, estuary, delta, weathering, deposition, flow rate
Erosion: abrasion, attrition, hydraulic action, corrosion
Transportation: traction, suspension, saltation, solution


Centre staff will welcome your group and describe the day’s programme, learning objectives, and the health and safety issues. (10 mins)

Day Course Programme


  • Question: As geographers what factors can be measured? (5mins)
  • Question: What factors will change when comparing a straight piece of river to a river with a bend (5mins)
  • Digital slide show showing the different geographical techniques that are going to be used. Flow rate, cross section, bedload size, wetted perimeter, gradient, depth, width field sketching (15 mins)
  • Demonstrate equipment (10 mins)
  • Activity: Based outdoors this supports the teaching of Erosion: abrasion, attrition, hydraulic action, corrosion (15 mins)
  • Walk to the river Meden (10 mins)
  • Activity: Study of straight river (30 mins)
  • Back to the centre (10 mins)



  • Walk to the river Meden (10 mins)
  • Activity: Study of the bend in the river (30 mins)
  • Tidy up / collect equipment (10 mins)
  • Back to the centre (10 mins)

Detailed activity sheets can be found in the Pond and River Studies & Humanities curriculum materials. Copies available at the centre.


Back at the Centre the group will reflect on their day and consider how well the learning objectives have been met (5 – 10 mins).

Safety Considerations

Weather Conditions and clothing

Some waders and wellies are available at the Centre but please ensure that students are dressed warmly and have suitable waterproof outerwear. Activities will take place in all but the most severe weather conditions. The centre teacher will contact the group leader if conditions are unsafe for the visit to continue.

Even though the river is shallow the students invariably get wet feet, so spare socks and trousers should be brought.

We have a large supply of Wellington boots at the centre, but if students bring their own it speeds up the start of the session

Equipment supplied

Flow rate meter, clinometers, chains for wetted perimeter, ranging poles, clipboards, recording sheets, first aid kit, flow rate meter, tape measures, stop watches, floats

Equipment needed from school

Sun cream if required, wellies