Oklahoma Water Resources

Water is becoming more and more important to Oklahomans.  There are water shortages, legal conflicts over water ownership, climate change and the occasional flood.  All of these and more are reflected in the daily and hourly changes in streamflow in watersheds across the state. This information is readily available and it makes for great discussions and projects on graphing and interpretation of graphs.

What you will find is hourly streamflow, water use, groundwater, maps and other water-related data for dozens of water locations in Oklahoma.  What you won’t find are lesson plans.  This is an area where you can shine by making your own:

http://ok.water.usgs.gov/

 

Oklahoma Climate

Oklahoma Climate – The educator’s part of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey is at http://climate.ok.gov/ and there is an incredible amount of material here – lesson plans, current data, archived data, and so forth.  The site is interlinked with Okahoma’s companion weather-education organizations – Mesonet and Earthstorm.  These are major sites with lots of information and teaching ideas – they take awhile to get familiar with where the materials are located.  Sometimes there are summer workshops to help you with this.  There already exists a cadre of experienced teachers who are using these materials in their classrooms.  In any case, be prepared to invest some time and energy, and in return, your classroom with be the premier weather classroom in your district if not your county.

Oklahoma Climate:  http://climate.ok.gov/

Oklahoma Mesonet:  www.mesonet.org

Earthstorm (Education):  http://www.mesonet.org/index.php/earthstorm

Minerals of Oklahoma

If you teach rocks then you teach minerals, right?  Here is a nice little site devoted to the minerals of Oklahoma.  It even has a county-by-county list of what and where you can find in each county.  You will need to know how to read legal descriptions though.  It’s only a few pages long and like many things on the internet you might want to just print it out.  There are also some good links and other information for rock and mineral collectors.

http://www.brightok.net/~rockman/index.htm is the mineral site.

http://homestead.org/NeilShelton/Legals/HowToReadLandDescriptions.htm is a site you can use to teach (or learn) how to read the legal descriptions.

Soils maps of Oklahoma

This may take you a little time the first time you use it, but if you are studying soils it is worth it; it takes basically four steps.   You can get a soils map by any size area of interest.  You can then modify, save or print your maps.  http://www.soils.usda.gov/survey/printed_surveys/state.asp?state=Oklahoma&abbr=OK

Wetland and aquatic plants of Oklahoma

If you do any environmental work with kids you will eventually be drawn to the water’s edge – or get deeper into it!   All of us who do this need to know the basic aquatic plants.  This site will help you in two ways.

First, it has the easiest key you will ever find.  You use pictures, photographs and short descriptions, not the detailed descriptions in Latin that we had to learn for Waterfall’s book back in the day.  Granted, these keys might not take you down to the most specific level but they can give you an answer in less than a minute to “what plant is that?”.   This is one reason to (carefully!) take that laptop into the field.

Second, it provides great photographs to many of the plants, but not all.  Did I mention that this is a work in progress?

Third, there are range maps for most of these plants.  I know, I said there were two reasons so think of the range maps as a bonus.

Add this to the bookmarks of your smartphone or tablet:  http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/wetland/wetland_interactive.html

Birds of Oklahoma

Didya know that the GSO (Great State of Oklahoma) is only second in the nation (to Texas) in species of birds?  Birding is a fast-growing hobby here and it attracts visitors from all over.  We have so many different ecological areas packed into a small state – from the deserts of Black Mesa to the Coastal Plains of McCurtain County, Oklahoma is one of the richest states in terms of species diversity!

Here is a nifty site with superb pictures of birds found in Oklahoma.  Besides the great, detailed pictures you will find most of them have a few paragraphs about the natural history of that bird.  The site also has a checklist for Oklahoma birds, a link to Oklahoma Butterflies, Oklahoma Dragonflies, Oklahoma Gardening and more.  http://www.birdsofoklahoma.net/

Mammals of Texas

Alas, there is no “Mammals of Oklahoma” – – not yet.  However, this book is a classic resource and has been for fifty years.  It has full descriptions of all of the mammals of Texas, with range maps.  The maps can give a pretty good suggestion of where they might be in Oklahoma, like the Porcupine (above).  The entire book is posted online, or you can order it online.  It’s not very expensive and would be an excellent library resource for southern or western Oklahoma schools.  http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/

Reptiles and Amphibians of Oklahoma

This is simply a checklist of the over 150 species of herps (reptiles and amphibians) found in Oklahoma.  It would be easy enough for me to copy and paste it, but that would not be proper use of Greg Sievert’s exhaustive research.  He is considered an authority in Oklahomoa herpetology.  http://academic.emporia.edu/sievertg/okherps.htm 

If you want more information get a copy of Reptiles of Oklahoma.  It is not expensive and it even has range maps, by county, for each species!   http://www.oksnakes.org/

Vegetation Maps of Oklahoma

There are several maps of where in the state the vegetation types are, or historically were.  The classic study is the map of 15 different kinds of vegetation.  A smaller copy appears above, and a link to the image is below.  Remember – when it comes to images, link, don’t lift!   http://www.okatlas.org/okatlas/biotic/vegetation/duckfletcher.htm

A more simplified (12 vegetation types) but more clear map, in pdf format is at http://www.forestry.ok.gov/Websites/forestry/Images/Ecoregions.pdf

There are other maps on this blog – geology, etc.  Just search to see what you find that you can use in your classroom!