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Water in Iowa

These photos provide examples of where water is found in Iowa. The state has a variety of surface water and underground water resources, this phenomena explores those resources. The winter photo of the Mississippi River shows water in its solid state, ice. The cold water spring flowing into the river comes from an underground aquifer. The primary aquifer in Iowa in the Jordan aquifer.

Various Waterways Across Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • Where is water found in Iowa?
  • What forms does water in Iowa take?
  • Why is the water in these different forms?
  • When is water a solid?
  • When is water a liquid?

Classroom Suggestions

  • The Next Generation Science Standard ESS2-3, under the heading of the role of water in the earth's surface processes, says that water is found in the ocean, rivers, lakes and ponds and that water exists as solid ice and in liquid form.  
  • This phenomenon could be used as the Engage or Explore activity.  Use the photos to discuss where water is found in Iowa and what surface water and underground water (Jordan aquifer) resources are found in Iowa.
  • The water in Iowa is fresh water.  Freshwater is found in several different surface water resources: rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and springs. 
  • What do they already know? Check your students' background knowledge on freshwater water forms. Share photos of each water form and ask students to identify them.

Related Resources

NSTA: This lesson explores the question, "Where in the world is water?"
YouTube: Lights Down Reading: This video features the book “Hey Water” by Antoinette Portis being read.
Iowa Conservation Education Coalition: This resource contains a summary of Iowa waterways.

Iowa Core Alignment

Earth and Space Science
Disciplinary Core Idea
ESS2: Earth’s Systems

Credit Info

Submitted by Jill Kelly

Additional credit to Julie Kingdon


Have you used this resource in your classroom? Do you have ideas for improvement? Share your ideas, experiences and feedback about this phenomena.

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