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Student Research Page

Cover-Rivers Rock

TPW Magazine, July 2010
Rivers Rock (pdf).

Rivers Rock!

Do you like to swim? Have you ever been in a boat, canoe or kayak? Do you go fishing? Do you like to drink water? Do you like to eat? Which of those depend on water? All of them, of course!

One of the best places to find water is in rivers. Rivers are like superhighways, transporting people, soil, nutrients, and even wildlife.

Follow a River

WatershedWhere a river starts is called the headwaters. In Texas, springs and rain water flowing down in a watershed create most of our rivers' headwaters.

Streams and tributaries feed into rivers that feed into bigger, major rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Flood plains are flat areas that hold water during a flood. As the flood waters drop, soil and nutrients are left behind as sediment. This sediment feeds the soil and becomes fertile areas for growing plants.

The area alongside rivers are called the riverbanks. Scientists also call riverbanks and flood plains riparian (rye-pear-ee-en) zones.

Riparian zones are very important!

  • The roots of plants in riparian zones keep the riverbanks from breaking off and washing away (called erosion).
  • Many fish and wildlife depend on plants in riparian zones for food and shelter.
  • Riparian zones  help keep soil damp and prevent floods by holding water and keeping  that live in wet soils called wetlands

Along the way, people and wildlife use water for drinking, irrigation, manufacturing, transportation and even recreation. Eventually, the rivers bring precious fresh water to the Gulf Coast. Where freshwater mixes with the ocean's saltwater, saltwater marshes grow. This area is called an estuary. This is where shrimp live and where many young ocean fish grow before going out to sea. Many plants and sea life depend on a certain mixture of clean freshwater and saltwater. We must be sure that enough freshwater and nutrients make it to the ocean to support the fish in the sea and wildlife on the shore.


Tortuga Tex, the Texas map turtle, has something to tell you about rivers, riffles, aquifers and estuaries!

Click on the pictures to read all about it. And to learn more, visit Tortuga Tex!


River Habitats  Follow the Colorado River  Flooding

Riffles  Tortuga Tex Visits the Edwards Aquifer!  Gulf Coast

River of Words

How many words about rivers can you learn? Check out the vocabulary

page. See if you can find pictures for each vocabulary word. If you live near a river or stream, look for an example of at least 3 of the vocabulary words; then try drawing or taking pictures of what you found.


You can also test yourself by covering up the labels on the Keep Texas Wild magazine picture. Can you identify the parts of the river and some of the wildlife that lives there?

Major Rivers and More!

Major Rivers


The Texas Water Development Board Kids Pages have fun activities you can do to learn more about water.

Be sure to look for your local water district web site to find out about the water where you live.