Flash Floods Teaching Box

Main content
Flash flooding along Bear Creek in Boulder, CO

Flash floods happen when quick and heavy rainfall causes placid waterways to turn into raging torrents. This teaching box is filled with explorations and readings that help secondary students learn the science of flash flooding. Students will learn that storms with unusually heavy rainfall can cause a flood, that the shape of the land and the ability of the ground to hold water influences whether a flood is likely, and they will learn how flash flood risk and probability is assessed. Get your feet wet by bringing the science of flash floods.

The UCAR Center for Science Education Teaching Boxes are themed collections of classroom-ready educational resources to build student understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Resources highlighted within teaching boxes are from various science education programs and all have been vetted by the Center's education team.

  • Topic: Flash Flooding
  • Level: Middle and high school

Rainfall and Flash Flooding

Goal: Students learn that storms with unusual amounts of rainfall can cause a flash flood.

Activity: Students learn how rainfall is measured and how it can lead to flooding.

Geology and Flash Floods

Goal: Students learn that water flows downhill on land and that the shape of the land and the ability of water to soak into the ground influences whether a rainstorm causes a flash flood.

Activity: Students build models to learn how topography and the permeability of the land affect flash flooding and apply their understandings to consider the effects of floods in urban environments.

Determining Flood Risk

Goal: Students learn how flash flood risk and probability is assessed.

Activity: Students learn about the 2013 Colorado floods and the probability of a 100-year flood event, and then interpret data on a floodplain map